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Recent Tasting Notes
Got a sample, loved it so much I ordered more. Brewed in a gaiwan, but held back on the leaf, and went lower on the temp than usual (208F). Poured the water around the gaiwan rather than straight over the top of the leaves. I was rewarded with a honey sweet, mellow but flavorful taste, super enjoyable. Got quite a number of steeps out of it (like, 6?) before the leaves gave up. Like Bitterleaf says in the notes, super honey-forward. Just like I like it.
Flavors: Herbs, Honey
Didn’t actually take good notes for this one; I think I was being overly optimistic at this point that the database would be back up much faster than it was. I remember it being so thick, darkly sweet and kind of oat-y though.
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cq6M7Y7Oa9i/
Kind of a tea photo, anyway. If we’re being honest it’s mostly a gaiwan photo.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpetK7aGGjo
Cracked open a fresh cake earlier in the week. Brewed grandpa style this was a smooth and sweet tea with all the delicious Yiwu character I could have hoped for! Reminded me a bit of lemon candies, but still with a greenness to the cup and an appropriate amount of bite. I feel like this tea is really going to sing when brewed gongfu, and I’m looking forward to trying that next!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CoYHNeFunx4/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NdluzeDNow
Finally took the time for a session with this dancong oolong and shou pu’erh blended tea! This is such a unique combination of teas to be pressed together, and I wanted to make sure I have it the mental focus I felt it would likely need and deserve. Honestly, the oolong and pu’erh play off each way nicer than they have any right to! There’s something so sweet, fresh and floral about the aroma that comes off the leaf and liquor as it steeps that exemplifies some of the best qualities of the dancong. In terms of taste I find this to be akin to a softer shou with a more round and coating mouthfeel. It’s still earthy but very clean and lacking the heaviness and pungency it might have were it not blended. I get some undertones of lychee and plum skins, which make me think of the dancong, and it’s so unique to be tasting in tandem with the pu’erh! I think it all kind of works because of the unifying minerality of the two teas. Honestly, I just really love “Frankenteas”. This miss a lot but, when they hit, OH BOY do they hit!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CnpsRapOZtk/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ssjkdcATng
Long days call for comfort teas so I brewed up a nice chunk of this tea earlier in the week. It’s rich and robust with a lot of my favourite parts of both tea types (shou and black) all beautifully woven together! Still earthy but also malty with chocolate notes. Surprisingly complex yet smooth.
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CniHVlBOcRm/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUO6XoJruNw
I’ve found myself increasingly interested in Lincang region sheng and it’s teas like this one that really exemplify why! The liquor is thick with a gentle astringency, though I find the taste to be quite gentle with an airy cotton candy type sweetness and a lot of fruitier elements. The finish is almost citrusy in a sweet yet bitter kind of way; like candied orange peels that still have some of their pith. Definitely really comforting on this first day back from holiday break – one of those teas you want to resteep over and over and over!
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cm7Jq-Nu7nN/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ9v-eHmfvA
Not a bad huangpian. I got this tea from my BLT order a while back, and it isn’t amazing but definitely not terrible. Nice leaves that were easy to pry and a rich wet leaf aroma plus a clean and clear yellow-orange liquor to pair. The flavour is decent, not the most nuanced but packed a unique nutty-bitter combination to it. The texture is very decent, smooth, oily and juicy all in one. Character is average, not a lot of steep variability while the finish & aftertaste was good, slightly lingering on both fronts. Cha-qi is almost unnoticeable and steep longevity is mediocre to average, topping out at steep 9-10.
There are definitely better huangpians out there, but objectively speaking this is a low 7/10 for me.
Flavors: Acidic, Bitter, Citrusy, Floral, Herbaceous, Herbal, Juicy, Mineral, Nutty, Oily, Smooth
With advents over I’ve been eager to begin exploring some of the tea orders that were placed shortly before and during Black Friday, which began trickling in just as advent season was ramping up. I’m still getting over an unfortunate case of strep throat, so much of the exploration has been on pause – but I was feeling just well enough today to begin dabbling. I think much of the flavour nuance of this shou is still lost on me, but the thick oily liquor is like a soothing salve to my raw throat and the brothy taste that hangs at the back of my mouth after each steep is something to be treasured and enjoyed for all long as it manages to linger. Hopefully better sessions will come as we close out the year!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cmr1_6DuqP5/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAg3lsrI7ZA
Decent-ish dancong. I got this tea from my BLT order some time back, and it is decent but not amazing. Beautiful leaves with a rich dry and wet leaf aroma and a decently clear but slightly pale liquor. The flavour is decent, nice floral complexity to it with a decent texture to pair. Character is also surprisingly good with a nice dusting of “shan yun” throat rhyme to the back of the flavour profile and the finish & aftertaste was decent as well with good juiciness and lingering florality. Cha-qi is almost non-existent and steep longevity is average to mediocre, topping out around steep 8-10.
Flavors: Creamy, Elderflower, Floral, Jasmine, Juicy, Ocean Breeze, Smooth, Sweet
Enjoyed a session of this (thanks to a gentle nudge from my friend theoolongdrunk) while playing Pokémon this past weekend! The YOT sheng and black tea this year were so good that it’s almost unfair to expect this tea to compete, but it does a pretty good job giving them a run for their money. What strikes me most is how surprisingly milky and floral this white tea is – really the only thing that comes to mind is this idea of richly pink whole rosebuds dipped in fresh cream. It’s a solid vibe.
I spent most of the weekend drinking tea and playing Pokemon Violet – after a few hours of grinding I finally have my final team for the rest of my play through. Anyone else playing??
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/ClgpACgOe2h/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xEGQNkVpV8
This pu’erh is super pleasantly thick and smooth, with both a brothy quality and more of a nutty and starchy quality – it makes me think a little bit of congee. I’ve been steeping it Grandpa Style all day while I try to ignore what feels like an assault of Black Friday sale offers. Though, of coarse, I’m not totally immune to the capitalism of it all – I actually ended up placing four orders in total over the coarse of the week, including another tea monster mugs to keep this one company!
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/ClZUB67OtRl/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU7-CBzmoUM
Sipdown! (39 | 286)
The last pouch remaining from a Bitterleaf sampler I ordered at some point.
I don’t have much experience with sheng puerh, but this reminded me of a sort of combination of an aged white tea and a shou puerh. It has the smooth and earthy, yet slightly creamy hay and straw notes of the white tea, but then there’s a somewhat funky barnyard note to it that makes me think of shou. A touch of fuzzy apricot skin at the end of the sip brings in thoughts of Chinese green teas as well.
Overall, it’s a nice tea and definitely a change of pace for me. I would like to explore sheng a bit, it definitely appeals to me more than shou does. Maybe next year I’ll look into ordering a few samples to try.
Flavors: Apricot, Barnyard, Creamy, Earthy, Hay, Mineral, Musty, Smooth, Stonefruit, Straw, Thick
We had our first snowfall of the winter earlier in the week, and it was less a snowfall and more of a snowstorm. I spent most of the day just keeping warm and cozy with grandpa brewed sheng. Wasn’t sure what to expect from this one but it’s surprisingly smooth with lighter notes of fresh and floral blueberries and peach skins – way more fruity than I would have assumed!
We recently got a new seating plan for our open office at work, and I actually have a desk in the main office now in addition to the one I’ve worked at in the our tea lab for the last couple years. I’ve been trying to split my time between the two spots. One of my new deskmates in our little pod of four is the designer for our hardgoods, and I’ve been really enjoying getting to share new teas with him since he doesn’t really know a lot of tea outside what we carry. I shared one of these coins with him – it was his first ever straight sheng. He didn’t like the first steep very much (he brewed it Western, but resteeped over the day) but a few steeps in really loved it – found it very peachy!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/ClCVkQNOeAH/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hkf26aHaybc
Had a bit of a “two in one” with the session as I used it to break in some new BLT teaware and it was my first time tasting this tea. Firstly, I am OBSESSED with this charmingly weird Chinese mythology inspired teacup. It perfectly fits in with my slowly growing assortment of strange tea accessories.
Secondly, this oolong was so toasty and delicious. When it comes to the “Dancong vs Yancha” conversation I tend to be firmly in the yancha camp, but this felt very much like the best of both worlds. Not quite as heavily roasted and mineral as your conventional Rougui but also not lacking those notes either. Cinnamon (duh), ginseng, tree bark, mace, and a hint of floral all complimented the more delicate notes of wet rocks and cocoa butter.
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CkwVOxDumiG/
(Peep the cup in the second pic)
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvyY4Ys4rmw
My order from BLT’s anniversary sale arrived yesterday and I was too impatient to wait to try something, so this new black tea was first pick! It’s sweet, syrupy and delicious with strong malty notes of baked goods, dark honey, and a finish that reminds me of maple syrup and pancake batter – though, the name of this tea may have something to do with why those specific tasting notes popped into my mind. I found this a really enjoyable session, and great value for the cost of the cake. BLT has really been knocking it out of the park this year with their black tea selections; I’m stoked to see how this changes as it settles and ages!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CktxKuEuemZ/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KuK3b69BTmc
Nice puerh! I got this tea from my BLT order, and it is a juice bomb. Beautiful leaves, with a rich savoury aroma and a vibrant yellow liquor full of trichomes, the flavour of this tea is quite decent, rich and savoury. The texture is a wonderful juice-bomb that salivates the mouth, the character is average to decent, the finish & aftertaste is decent, definitely helped by the texture of this tea, the cha-qi is underrated as it isn’t so in your face but it actually affects more of the stomach, so don’t drink this tea on an empty stomach. The steep longevity is decent to good, lasting 11-12+ steeps. Overall, a really nice tea that just breaks the 80+ for me.
Flavors: Bitter, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Pastries, Savory, Spices, Stonefruit, Umami
This sheng has a pleasantly light astringency throughout the session with an overarching soft sweetness to the taste. Though it’s hard to pinpoint specific tasting notes with this almost ethereal seeming tea, I do taste elements of sugar cane, corn silk, and honeysuckles with a very mild but generic “green note” to ever so slightly anchor the session. Because the flavour is so approachable in its delicate deliciousness, it was easy to drink a lot of this sheng very quickly, and now I’m sort of basking in the warm glow of cha qi and caffeine that snuck up on me just as quickly!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CsjJOVLO08t/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vRtVFIsYPLI
The comparison to Yiwu material is what made me pull out this sample on Sunday, and sipping on the tea I definitely see similarities. The liquor is quite soft and silky in mouthfeel, with delicate notes of hot summer hay and honeysuckle throughout. A pleasant sugar cane note greets you at the end of the sip, with a lush coating sweetness that fills the mouth and throat! With a name like Kingpin I probably would have expected a more bitter and surly session, with abrasive texture and flavour; but this was a pleasant divergence from that expectation.
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CkEV85luGpj/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_y0AzxAXlw
The dry leaf of this Dancong black tea processed from Milan Xiang cultivar is almost surreal in how sweet and plummy it smells, and steeped up this tea is even better! It’s practically dripping in syrupy florals and notes of over ripe plums, with a coating liquor and honey finish. Very aromatic and arguably almost too rich to start the day with. Almost being the key word! BLT has been blowing it out of the water with their black teas lately, but this one is just sublime!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cj-q6nmuBa2/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1kH6iCsyWw
Sore throat and sniffles call for chenpi; so earlier this week I steeped up a session of this shou stuffed Xinhui mandarin (back when I was just starting to feel sick). It’s somewhat bitter and earthy with a pithy citrus undertone, but also accented with a bright and zesty enough top note of mandarin orange that I think it could probably cut throat even the stuffiest of noses! In particular I love the huigan and medicinal coating feeling on my throat. In know I have a few of the other tea base versions of this tea left, but I’m actually not 100% sure if this is the last shou one in my tea stash – at a certain point it just gets kind of tricky to keep track. Thankfully, this tea is a total work horse and just brews and brews, so I’ll be able to enjoy it for the entire day. Haven’t checked in a while if these are still in stock, but if this is actually my last one I’ll have to see if I can add another handful of them to my next order!!
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CpQg_lUuD_c/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_V2ccs_Urk
It’s really starting to feel like Autumn so I’m digging into some of my shou pu’erh samples. The chenpi ones in particular. It’s equal parts sweet, bright & citrusy and dense, darkly earthy and brothy. Just a totally cozy and warming little flavour packed treat of a tea on a cool afternoon. It’s very hard to pick a favourite out of the white, black, and shou versions of this tea as they’ve all been sublime, but this one may just ever so slightly come out on top for me!
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CjnlkbfuMxF/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFTLQM3yI-s
Not a great ripe. I got this tea from my BLT order, and it just didn’t do much for me during the session. A lot of broken leaves with poor aroma but a really beautiful rich liquor, flavour was average, texture was average, character mediocre. Finish & aftertaste was average, cha-qi non-existent, and steep longevity poor. Disappointing and the tea made it a chore to write this review.
Flavors: Bark, Earth, Forest Floor, Moss, Mushrooms, Rainforest, Spices, Wet Rocks, Wet Wood