300 Tasting Notes
I was very pleased with this sample after having a bum session with Songyang White yesterday, though I have plenty of leaf to revisit it another day. While they do not taste similar they leave the same feeling on the tongue, a bit dry and tingly, what I am learning to identify as lineny, a trademark of Yunnan teas, this one even reminds me of some blacks. I am even beginning to appreciate this texture for what it is, though I personally prefer teas to leave my mouth buttery, juicy, sparkling or cool.
Taste wise they are very different teas, while the Songyang was very quiet for me, this one is vibrant and evokes several tea memories for me. The first steep is mildly perfumey (in a nice way) with a touch of cocoa, it reminds me most strongly of Golden Jade and now reading the description I can relate this to sweetgrass. It gets more interesting in the second steep, which is all piney and rosemary and calls to mind more pungent white teas, even Yabao. The third steep is a blend of the first two with a nice sweet kick at the beginning and gaining an artichoke note, though I totally get the basil and lime. The fourth is less sweet but just as bright.
Unfortunately I had to move on to dinner and was a bit tea-ed out, I’m excited to try the 2012 picking and all these Verdant Yuannan black teas. I also think I shall pick up a bit of Lavender Earl Green with my Alchemy Blends order. 100th tasting note, woo!
Update: Yesterday I tried the sample David sent of the 2012 first plucking thank you. I could tell as soon as I poured the water that this was different. It smelled so very vegetal, even though the steep was only 5 sec and rendered a perfectly clear liquor. The first two infusions tasted more like Laoshan green. The third through fifth reminded me more of last years Jing Shan but I wouldn’t draw the Golden Jade or Yabao comparison this time. It still has that same Yunnan texture to it but is so much more green and I dare say a bit sweeter! So it tastes like itself only more, if that makes sense. In the end I’d say its a very well balanced and delightful green.
Ohhh wow this… is… incredible. Simply yet ever so complicatedly incredible. As in my tongue and my nose do not believe what they are tasting and smelling. I have never had an orchid oolong and I wanted so very much to try this when I saw it on Steepster a couple months ago. I inquired first with David as to if it would be returning, when it seemed not, I turned to Steepster and used it for what it is: a community, a community of very generous tea lovers. So I asked around, starting with the locals and those who didn’t care as much for this one. The good lady Angrboda who is in no way local, answered my plea and sent me this and some other lovely samples from Europe! Thank you so very much for giving me the opportunity to try this, I am so grateful.
The teas from Ang arrived a couple weeks ago, but alas I had a sinus infection and put them off. However if I had known what this tea was going to do to my throat ans nasal passages i probably would have drank it right away. It is so cooling and cleansing and tea gods don’t strike me down, but it does remind me of my brew of Throat Coat and Twig Tea. However I am glad I waited to take the time to fully savor this, I probably would have thought I was crazy for that observation then anyway. For today I have the house to myself, a rare blessing, as my mother has taken the toddler to a parade. I took a shower, lay down for awhile and treated myself to this very special tea for my 99th tasting note and after this I think I may do some art!
Upon opening the pouch I was met with an unexpected aroma, true I didn’t know what to expect, but definitely not dark grassy Gyokuro. I have not found this grassy note in the cups I have brewed and infact it changed as soon as the leaves hit the warm mug, to something strange and culinary I just can’t put my finger on. I did the quickest of steps with water just off the boil and the smell changed to something more earthy and illeagal, the word hash sprang to mind, though I only have one vague years old memory that. The aroma of the liquor shape shifted in the cup as the taste did in my mouth, starting out sort of charcoaly and morphed into that cool almost medicinal brew (medicinal in the most natural herb and root sense).
I was worried at first that I had scorched the leave as it started out toasty, then came a slight sweetness, then a coolness at the back of the mouth, developing into candy and flooding my nose from the inside out. I have never had ginseng oolong, but I can understand the comparison as this is all ginseng and anise and only the slightest bit of floral, candied flowers, orchid concentrated, sweetened and made into a cough drop and a nasal spray and I love it. Yes it is sweet but it’s also intense, almost harsh at moments, but with a self-soothing mechanism built in.
So I can understand why a few didn’t care for it, but I immediately want to share it, in a tasting with Yabao and the ‘04 Yanxin’s Reserve Shu Nuggets. Me thinks this would have to be the last tea tasted though. I wish I had enough for that and a cold brew, but sharing wins out. But for now I am going to see if I can draw out more that these first five infusions, it’s getting a bit ashy, but I think there is still life in them yet. Thank you Angrboda for sharing this and David Duckler and Verdant Tea for supplying and sourcing it!
It should not come as a surprise that I have drank this many many times, at work and as well as at home (though I have never actually purchased it except in the Forbidden Kingdom Collection when it was 50% off). I’ve sold plenty of it and for that I am sorry. However I have somehow not gotten around to reviewing it.
That being said, I’m going to try not to be too negative here. I did short steeps with this one today and I must say my gongfu was pretty good, for as little water as I was using the leaves got some good motion. The leaves didn’t give off much scent when dry and weren’t anything special wet, but my gods did that first cup smell good. It smelled like the High Mountain Alishan I had the other day and I just leaned back in my chair and let myself get lost in the vapors.
There. I have said something nice, unfortunately it’s the only thing I have to say. There was no sweetness to be found in this cup, no butter or creaminess in the ones to follow and hardly a trace of orchid. To be fair the leaves are probably quite old, but I have never found any of those qualities except the orchid notes in Teavana’s MPO.
The flavors on this are a bit hard to describe, they are rather vague, not particularly vegetal nor floral nor woodsy nor herbaceous but the second infusion was more savory. For a second I thought it was going to be buttery, but it was much to dry for that. Teavana describes this tea as smooth and while I wouldn’t call it astringent, the mouthfeel on this tea is probably the most disappointing part. I steeped this probably six times today and it didn’t produce anything else noteworthy.
I will mention that the leaves were more broken on this batch than I am used to seeing. Also the color is laughably dull compared to Verdant’s Spring Harvest Tieguanyin that I brewed right after it, verdant indeed! As others have said, Teavana’s MPO is not a bad tea, but it’s also not worth the price nor the hype and is certainly not “the rarest oolong in the world”. I had the exact same reaction as JubJubs when I read their newsletter a while ago. http://bogosiposo.tumblr.com/post/22471844251/teavanas-monkey-picked-oolong
Ugh bitter bitter bitter brew. I wanted white tea last night, toddler wanted to have a tea party, this is the tin we grabbed. I made a little under 16oz hot and decided to try my hand at cold brewing the rest, knowing it was coming up on a year since I acquired it. I don’t know if it’s the age of the tea or the chamomile, but this is very astringent both hot and cold. Toddler says he loves it, after making a slight wince, go figure.
Last tea I tried yesterday, but how could I not compare? I could tell this one was special as soon as the dry leaves hit the bottom my warm mug, creammmy! I started with a flash steep on this and am glad I did. While most of the oolongs I tried yesterday benefited from higher temperatures and longer steep times, I feel this did better with short ones.
I was rewarded with a heavenly experience both in taste and aroma. I don’t think I can compare this to anything. I’ve seen other’s review milk oolongs and say they are more like milk candies or more like butter or cream than milk. I’ve never had milk candies and couldn’t be bothered with differentiating my dairy last night, because I was blissed out from this tea, but I will say it was a sweet milkiness that left a cool tingle on first the back of my tongue, gradually working its way forward with each sip. I remember calling down to the husband last night “oh dear, I think this is going to be something I crave!”
Unfortunately I did add more time to the second steep and it fell short of the first. I hoped the third would be better, but it wasn’t until I returned to short steeps that I got that special something. Perhaps it would be fine with one longer steep, but I used all my leaves and was all tea-ed out by that time last night anyway. I just revived this this afternoon and it tastes like a good green oolong with a bit more fullness and coolness in the mouth. I will definitely pursue more Jin Xuan! Thank you so very much Fong Mong Tea for the introduction!
I had to try this one as well yesterday, my first Alishan, thank you so much Fong Mong Tea! First an interesting observation. I found that I didn’t get much aroma from the leaf while it was in the bag, but as soon as I poured the dry leaf into my pre-warmed mug it came to life, so green and vibrant! I shall just copy & paste my notes from my phone from yesterday when Steepster was down:
This is oolong? Well of course it looks like oolong, little green fists, but the smell is just so green, and the taste, scandalous. There is no floral here, no orchid, no earth no wood, just crisp green goodness and a hint of nuttiness. I would swear this was a green tea in a blind tasting and a delicious one at that!
Second steep, still very green but richer, deeper, beany, and a hint of butter! Mmm and just a tinge of savory, yet in later sips still dark, cool and sweet. In later steeps the green mellowed out and this tasted more like a Tie Guan Yin. Still very exciting, I think I shall pursue more Alishans, this was a great introduction thank you!
Much thanks to Fong Mong Tea for this sample. I had mentioned to them that I had enjoyed both Oriental Beauty and Tung Ting in the past, so I was excited they included this one for comparison. However the Tung Ting I had tried was much darker (not sure if it was more oxidized, roasted or both). So while they are very different flavors, this does taste like very center green part of darker version.
It also tastes as if it has been brewed in yixing, yet hasn’t. At first I thought it was my memory tricking my sense as the Tung Ting I had tried at Essencha Tea House was brewed in a tiny yixing tea pot, but there is definitely a clay-like mineral note that is neither sweet nor metallic. I infused this many times yesterday in my make-shift gaiwan, at first with short steeps, then later much longer trying to draw out more flavors, but the steeps stayed quite consistent. I would say it might to better with long western infusions though. Mildly veg with those odd clay notes, the word bakey comes to mind, but I thought other’s used that in conjunction with bready. On the other hand it might do very well in a yixing pot! Thank you Fong Mong for this unique experience!
Thank you very much to Fong Mong Tea for the generous samples that arrived yesterday. I have been wanting to try more Taiwanese teas for awhile. In fact it was an Oriental Beauty that opened my eyes to the greater tea world and led me to Steepster, so it seems appropriate that I start with this. These leaves are a bit more varied than the other version of this tea I’ve tried. While the silver buds are slender and twisty, the bronze leaves are broader and while most are long and whole, there are some smaller and broken bits mixed in.
The smell is so lovely and familiar, yet hard to pinpoint. My mouth is greeted by a similar welcoming warmth, like embracing an old friend. This is woodsy, a soft fragrant wood, with a dusting of… powdered sugar? Yes, mmm. Later in this cup is the most subtle hint of fruit, like licking a grapevine.
Second infusion: hello flavor! There is a fleeting sweetness like cocoa powder, but it is gone in an instant. Oh, this is quite muscatel, but I so prefer it to Darjeeling. Mmm grape leaves now.
Third infusion: more herbaceous, like Shou Mei. And the next five infusions are pretty consistent with this, even though I increased the steep time by 15 secs up to 2 mins. I brewed this session in a makeshift gaiwan (curvy mug with a lid that I only used the bottom 4-5oz of) with 3 grams of leaf starting at 5 secs.
Today I brewed the other half of my sample, starting at 3 mins and increasing by a min for a total of four sessions. This tea definitely does better with more time and higher temperatures, but still never gets very strong or buttery and still reminds me more of Darjeeling and Shu Mei. Not quite what I was looking for, but lovely all the same, thank you! I may eventually order the Top Grade.
So I have been really quite angry today that I have all this great new tea that I can’t try due to infection of doom whose symptoms keep rotating (though today and yesterday’s rattling cough are new and yes I’m going to see the doctor tomorrow).
After dinner I decided to brew up a pitcher of Silver Yin Zhen Pearls, but alas it tasted awful perhaps partially due to a bit of soap and chai residue but mostly I think because it was an old tea from a clearance gift set, never cared for the pearls anyway.
So after that I thought anything would taste good and proceeded to brew this one from Angrboda, which I had actually measured out earlier in the day. I’m not liking it and I’m not sure why. It bares no resemblance to the pearls, that was all musty and stale perfume, this is fishy and metallic and calls to my mind shark (no idea). Might try a resteep but could just be my tastebuds being all wonky, should probably just go back to my throat coat :sigh:
My tea drinking lately has been boring due to ear thing, cough and sore throat, I’ve brewed various loose leaf green teas with various Traditional Medicinal tea bags, sometimes steeping the green first then using that liquid for the bag, sometimes vice versa and haven’t been pleased with any of the results until this one. Throat Coat (because that’s the predominant symptom today) with Choice Organic’s Kukicha bag tea. I steeped the former for 5 mins on its own and added the twig tea for an additional 3 mins. The result? Sweet, roasted, deep, cool spice, soothing goodness. They round each other out very nicely.
I did get to brew tea for my sister and our husband, Bailin Gonfu and Laoshan Northern Black. For whatever reason the Bailin was not playing very nicely, but they loved the Laoshan. Still on the hunt for a gaiwan, I’m torn about styles and hesitant about ordering from random online stores. Any suggestions are welcome.
On a completely unrelated note, I chopped my hair to chin length (it was long and getting so easily tangled). Weight off my shoulders for sure, husband doesn’t know yet and likely will not care, should be long again by November.