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Recent Tasting Notes
Well… this tea was a hot item 5 years ago. As it happens, my stash of this came from summer 2016 too, but it’s been stored sealed for years. And NOW it tastes strongly of honey and is just lovely. I’m glad I bought more recently and I’ll follow up here when I tuck into that! Very pleasant and non-astringent.
Flavors: Honey, Yams
I bought this sometime in 2017 and agreed with the other tea notes here at the time. I was new to Puer and was sorely disappointed that I had a full cake of the stuff that I couldn’t abide. But time passes and The Dude abides… and the tea ages and mellows (in dry storage, being shunned). Now in 2021 it is 29 years old, has a lovely fragrance, the compost odor is gone, and I have been brewing and sipping it with happiness. Gongfu, but cheating with a steel strainer, and easily going 12-14 steepings (4 g in 4 oz boiling water). I wasn’t particularly delicate when breaking up the cake, but I did find some complete budsets and larger leaves, along with many bits and pieces. The photo I posted of spent leaves in a saucer is a representative sampling, while the smaller ramekin features some of the other largest pieces—all from today’s 4 g portion. Tastewise, the tea isn’t very complex. Mostly bass notes of wood, leather, and smooth sweetness, with no astringency whatsoever. No smokiness, no fishiness either. And today I steeped LONG to make dark, thick cups that were easy to swill. Thanks to BTTC for encouraging tolerance and patience. I have already bought a second cake despite a jump in price!
A real good Taiwan-stored Pu’erh, and only the first steeping had hints of earthy compost and fresh fish. Then it was smooth sailing through sixteen steepings of lovely, sweet, aromatic and tongue-pleasing tea, ranging from deep dark walnut to red oak to light copper in colour. Mine was a sample-size gift from BTTC last year, and I don’t know if it’s still available. You can see how the starting dry leaves differ from the spent leaves after the 16th brew in the photos I’ve posted & close-ups. I would buy this as a routine morning tea if I could get more!
I usually prefer heavily oxidized teas, so sometimes Taiwanese oolongs are not to my taste, but I enjoyed this one quite a bit. The first few infusions as the leaves open up are a little green for my taste in a roasted oolong, marked by notes of cooked vegetables, but the later infusions bring out the fruit and nut flavors I was looking for. I would love to see how this ages, I think time would bring out that really nice ‘sour plum’ flavor while mellowing out the roast.
Flavors: Caramel, Chestnut, Plums, Spinach
A mellow black tea with moderate body, a sweet aftertaste (which reads more ‘fruit’ than ‘honey’ to me, but I’m splitting hairs here), and a lingering coolness in the mouth characteristic of Taiwanese black teas. I was surprised but pleased by a pine sap note that reminds me of zhengshan xiaozhong. I think the sweetness would be appreciated by both new and experienced black tea fans. Enjoyable either in a teapot or a thermos, but I advise leafing moderately heavy or else the flavor is rather thin.
Flavors: Peach, Pine, Sweet Potatoes
I’ve been trying not to get too interested in high mountain oolongs because of the cost, but this one weakened my resolve :) The leaves open up quickly in the teapot, accompanied by a jasmine-like aroma, much more floral than the liquid tastes.
The most prominent tasting note for me is butter, almost too strong except that it’s balanced out by a floral and nutty aftertaste. Very different from my usual fare, but delicious, especially at this price.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Jasmine, Popcorn
I got this tea with my unfortunate teapot purchase late last year, so I assume it’s from 2019. It was kind of Beautiful Taiwan Tea to include a sample. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of sweet cream, flowers (osmanthus?), cookies, and vegetables. The first steep has notes of cream, butter, orchid, osmanthus, custard, veggies, and grass. I get artichoke and bok choy in the second steep, along with a subtle fruitiness that I can’t pin down. The fourth steep makes me think it might be honeydew. The creamy notes fade as the session progresses, and the floral, honeydew, and vegetal notes take over. Even at the vegetal end of the session, there’s a nice sweetness.
This is a solid Jin Xuan, and while it isn’t my favourite type of Taiwanese oolong, I enjoyed it, especially the surprise fruity note.
Flavors: Artichoke, Bok Choy, Butter, Cookie, Cream, Custard, Floral, Grass, Honeydew, Orchid, Osmanthus, Vegetal
Thanks to eelong for sending me a sample of this and reminding me that classic flavor is classic for a reason.
This is black tea, with the faintest, barely discernible hints of muscatel and chocolate. It is exceptionally smooth with zero tannic acid. I found myself immediately wanting more once I was done with it— not my usual reaction to a tea with a more or less one-note profile, but Wild Boar is not bland or simple. It is stalwart but refined. To me, it brings to mind the image of an old sea captain— enduring, stoic, and pointedly what it is no matter how it’s framed.
(This smells a bit salty in the bag, which may be where that comparison hails from. . .)
Point being, this is what should be at the heart of a good black tea and, unlike some more nuanced varieties, is not going to fail you even if you brew it tired and half-wrong. Good enough to drink contemplatively, faithful enough to drink when worn out and in need of something that gives more than it takes.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Muscatel, Tea
I’ve tried this hot and cold brewed and it was fantastic both ways. It’s not a complex tea by any means, there aren’t subtle notes and hints of different flavors that peek out from the body. No, everything is sublimely blended into a perfect black tea. It’s incredibly smooth and easy to sip at any temperature. The flavor is a lovely chameleon that suits any mood and any season. Nothing like the other wild blacks I’ve tried. Really, really enjoy this; especially for $4 an ounce!
I wasn’t sure how I felt about fermented teas without a floral note to cover up some of the flavor when I ordered this. But at $18 for a 3.5 ounce brick, this seemed like a safe way to try out unadulterated pu’erh without shelling out $100 for a ripe 400 gram chunk with some age to it.
Well, after taking a whiff of it in the bag, I’m hooked. It smells like a gently dampened forest floor, woody and organic with a whisper of sweet fallen leaves. There’s also some detectable dirt, but that’s not an unpleasant note, surprisingly. When you saturate the tea with boiling water, the aroma turns into what I can only describe as the scent of vivarium—clean soil and mulch that slowly steeps in the intense humidity. The taste is what you would expect from the dry scent: woody, earthy, and overall pleasant. Very, very smooth. Nothing fishy about it, no astringency, no biting edge from an excess of tannins. A touch of sugarcane in the aftertaste with a gentle minerality. It’s like a tasty and polished version of the liquid you get from boiling dried oak leaves on the stove to make leaf litter for a blackwater aquarium. I’m sure there are better fermented teas out there, but I’m in love with this stuff for the time being.
Flavors: Bark, Earth, Mineral, Smooth, Wet Wood
From the Oolong group buy: Another charcoal roasted oolong. Another tea that will be unloved by my palate. All I can taste is the roast and sour nuts. Not an appealing flavor combination. The roast has mellowed somewhat, but I still can’t taste the tea.
Flavors: Nuts, Roasted, Sour
10g sample weighed in at 10.8g. Decided to brew gong fu first, using 6.8g.
Dry tea looks nice, large-medium sized balls but quite a lot of dust and tiny pieces. Dry aroma is subtle light floral.
Gong fu style:
Filtered tap water at full boil, quick rinse.
1st infusion, full boil, 30 seconds. Aroma is light, sweet floral and vegetal. Aroma of wet leaves is honey and osmanthus. Tea flavor and mouthfeel all typical of high mountain oolong: osmanthus, honey, slightly vegetal and a long sweet finish. But not tasting anything magical like the best (supposed) Li Shan or Da Yu Ling teas I’ve had. Still, a very nice tea.
Cutting this review a bit short – subsequent infusions were very similar. It’s a very nice tea with a very nice long sweet finish and I don’t doubt them when they say it is from the 95k marker in Da Yu Ling. And very fairly priced at $34.99/56g. But we’re getting above the $5 per gong fu session mark and given the quality of some of their other less expensive teas I’m not sure I’ll be ordering a larger quantity of this one. It really is nice though. Still tasting that sweetness.
Flavors: Honey, Osmanthus, Vegetal
13.3g in this 10g sample! Decided to brew gong fu with this one, using half the sample.
Dry tea looks nice, large-medium sized balls and very little dust. Appearance is typical of the style, beautiful dark green that’s somehow “bright” at eh same time. Dry aroma is subtle honey, osmanthus, sweet milk.
Gong fu style:
Filtered tap water at full boil, quick rinse.
1st infusion, full boil, 35 seconds. Aroma is light, sweet grassiness. Wet leaf aroma similar with a bit more osmanthus and milk scent. Pleasant taste and mouthfeel but both a little thin. I used about 5% less tea than I typically do — will try going a bit longer on the next ones. Finish is sweet and vegetal. Milk/buttery flavors are noticeable but quite subtle. Pleasant slight lingering sweetness. Ahh, waited a couple of minutes and there’s the hui gan. Nice.
2nd infusion: full boil, 45 seconds. A bit stronger and darker than 1st infusion but aroma, taste, mouthfeel all similar.Balance now shifts towards more sweetness and less vegetal. Stronger umami
3rd infusion, full boil, 60 seconds. Similar to second in color and mouthfeel; flavor and aroma slightly lower across the spectrum. Very little tannin or bitterness. Strong hui gai on this one!
4th (and final) infusion: full boil, 120 seconds. Nice sweetness now. Aroma has faded but mouthfeel and sweetness are very nice. Honey orchid & osmanthus flavors now. Still not getting a lot of “milk” from this one. (And I despise flavored “jinxuan” so not looking for that.) Very nice lingering sweetness.
Based on this session, I think this tea wants longer brews. Might just do the remainder in 2 small competition-style brews and catch all those layers at once.
Leaves very delicate and tore easily post-infusions. Possibly hand-picked? (They say it is.) Mix of leaf & bud systems & single leaves, even a few long, thin lonely stems. Those leaves that aren’t on stems are quite torn. Almost looks like a mix of hand- and machine-picked, but I’m far from an expert.
Nice tea at a good price ($12.99/56g).
Flavors: Grass, Milk, Osmanthus, Vegetal
10g sample weighed in at 10.9g. Used 5.5g for competetion-style brewing. Will follow up with gong fu brewing test. I usually use 7g for gong fu so with 5.4g I’ll use a bit less water & slightly longer steeps.
Dry tea looks nice, large sized balls (odd-shapen more that perfectly round) with some really big ones and just a little dust. Dry aroma is moderate sweetness.
Filtered tap water at full boil, quick rinse. 6-min brew in gaiwan. Tea color darker than I expected. Very nice honey aroma. Wet leaf aroma is sweet with floral and vegetal notes.
Tea taste is very nice: pronounced honey sweetness with notes of stone fruit, mild roastiness, something vaguely familiar that I can’t quite identify, a little cinnamon, and…leather! Moderately tannic. Nice umami. Appearance is a lovely amber color, about the color of a Dongfang Meiren/Bai Hao.
Subtle hui gan still there 10 mins later.
Appearance of wet leaves is interesting. They are somewhat torn, and I suspect it was machine-harvested? Evidence of bug-bites around the edges and where present the leaves have a notable purple tinge. Some leaves are entirely purplish and those tend to be very thick and resistant to flattening. Don’t recall seeing leaves with this color or the thick leatheriness that some of them have.
Try this one — it’s fairly unusual and a very nice tea at a good price ($14.99/56g)!
Flavors: Cinnamon, Honey, Leather, Stonefruit
10g sample was actually 9.5g (no big deal). Used 4.8g for competetion-style brewing. Will follow up with gong fu brewing test. I usually use 7g for gong fu so with 4.7g I’ll use a bit less water & slightly longer steeps.
Dry tea looks nice, medium sized balls with some larger ones and a bit of dust. Dry aroma is not strongly present.
Filtered tap water at full boil, quick rinse. 6-min brew in gaiwan. Tea color and aroma are both surprisingly light. Wet leaf aroma has notes of orchid, omanthus, honey, peach.
Tea taste and mouthfeel are both very pleasant. Tastes about like what a light, unroasted Dong Ding should taste like. Lingering sweetness is present and very nice but less pronounced than in high mountain oolongs? (I think?)
Lots of 2- and 3-leaf systems in the open leaves, as well as some extremely large leaves (Fo Shou cultivar?), a few smaller torn bits, but I’d say it appears hand-picked?
Very nice tea, and would be more than happy with it as an everyday drinker, particularly given the good price ($12.99/56g).
Flavors: Honey, Orchid, Osmanthus, Peach
Sipdown @ work.
I finally purchased another variable temperature kettle for home and brought in the boil only kettle to work. Just in time too since the breakroom hot water (coffee) machine broke yesterday. It’s nice to have hotter water and a little bit of temperature variation.
100ml shibo, 200F, severe underleafing 2-3g max
Wish I had a little more leaf, but it’s a good recovery from the lukewarm tea I just had.
Lightly sweet oolong with a simple, pleasing taste. It’s not too complex, but it’s delicious.
Dominant flavor notes: lightly sweet honey
Secondary flavor notes: citrus (on later steeps)
Good, solid tea with a slight natural sweetness. Overall, I’d buy this again.
Flavors: Citrus, Honey
Finished sipping down a small sample of this tea the other day. It’s a good aged tea with an appreciable amount of dankness to it. Woody and camphorous for the most part. Easy to drink. At the price BTT sells most of their older sheng, it would make a good ‘daily drinker’ sort of old tea, whether it’s actually from the 1990s or not. Good storage and a good tea.
Busting the last of this out this morning. Went with a roasted oolong as it is a rainy morning here in Lansing, Michigan… Even though it is December and we have no snow and there is no snow in the forecast before Christmas and I’m so disappointed. But I digress.
Anyway, the leaf looked fairly green for a roasted so I took that as it being a lightly roasted oolong. I was right and while I normally skew towards heavily roasted and find greens lacking, this is actually masterfully done.
First steep at 195 for about 20 seconds. The liquid is a light hay yellow. It smells a bit of red skinned roasted peanuts which I thought odd. I sat smelling it thinking that surely I was wrong but I couldn’t shake it. Upon sipping, I find it is a perfect balance between green and roasted. There is a bit of a roasted flavor but it blends perfectly with a buttery green flavor. Maybe a hint of floral but that is debatable.
Second steeping, 20 seconds. This one lost some of the charcoal roast and went a bit more buttery with a hint of bitterness.
Third steeping, 35 seconds. That might have been too long. The bitterness kicked up in this steep. Not cringe inducing, pour out status mind you but a tad bit more than I would like.
Overall, this was a solid tea that I would recommend for both people who prefer greens but might want to try a light roast or for those who prefer roasted oolongs but might want to have some features of a green. My rating would have been higher but for the fact that this does have a tendency to get a bit bitter if steeped for even a few seconds too long so it does require a delicate, nuanced hand in steeping.
Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Dandelion, Flowers, Peanut, Roasted, Roasted nuts
I’m dipping a little further into the backlog than I have lately with this one, as I finished my sample pouch of this tea somewhere between early and mid-November. It seems that I have more unposted reviews from last month and the first week of this month than I realized. With the semester over I can now get cracking on clearing out the backlog that has accumulated over the past month and a half, so I should hopefully have things more or less caught up by the end of the year. Anyway, this was an excellent Dian Hong, and that should not come as much of a surprise to those familiar with Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company’s offerings. Despite their primary focus being on Taiwanese oolongs, they do have a history of sourcing quality black teas and oolongs from Yunnan Province.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of raisin, prune, cedar, tobacco, malt, and honey. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted almond, cocoa, cream, and butter accompanying a stronger malt scent. The first infusion introduced scents of roasted peanut and baked bread. Once in the mouth, the tea liquor revealed notes of malt, raisin, prune, cedar, tobacco, and baked bread that were balanced by pleasant honey undertones. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of cinnamon, cocoa, orange zest, black pepper, caramel, vanilla, and eucalyptus. Strong butter and cream impressions as well as subtler notes of roasted almond and roasted peanut emerged in the mouth alongside new impressions of minerals, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, orange zest, black pepper, eucalyptus, cocoa, and brown sugar. At this point, I should note, however, that as the tea gradually and gracefully faded, the liquor settled into a groove where it consistently offered mineral, eucalyptus, cream, malt, vanilla, caramel, brown sugar, and baked bread notes that were accented by hints of honey, cinnamon, cedar, and black pepper.
This was one of those teas that I could not help but rate highly because there was nothing off about it. In my opinion, it offered everything that one would expect of a great Dian Hong. There was nothing strange or lacking, nothing out of place. This was just an expertly crafted tea that produced a wonderful drinking experience. I have no problem with recommending this one highly to fans of Dian Hong or anyone just looking for a quality black tea.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Dried Fruit, Eucalyptus, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Raisins, Tobacco, Vanilla
Here’s another tea I had gotten halfway through taking notes on until I visited this page only to see eastkyteaguy had yet another spot-on review for something I was drinking. Almost every aroma and flavor he noted I picked up on except the menthol. At one point, there was an addition of cinnamon to the aroma and at times toward the end, the dark honey notes seemed to mingle with some light molasses.
I approached this tea a little differently than him, using a 150 mL glass gaiwan (which was nice to use again and made me look forward to next spring’s green teas!) and started with
200F water with a rinse and steeps of 30 seconds. Once the ball opened up about halfway, I increased the water temperature to just off boiling to see how it would perform when pushed. The tea was steadfast in its presentation, budging not toward bitterness and maintaining its light astringency. After I got through 7 steeps at 30 seconds, I was too caffeinated to continue, so into a pint jar the leaves went and into the refrigerator. I’ll see how that turns out tomorrow.
I’m not fond of honey-flavored teas but for some reason, the honey notes in aged/aging
whites I find desirable. This tea was a good example of the style even in its dragon ball
format. It’s a forgiving tea that’s full of sweet, fruity, floral, nutty and slight savory aromas and flavors and it possesses an ease of brewing, making me think it would appeal to a range of drinkers.