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Recent Tasting Notes
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
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
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
Great tea for the price! I got this tea from my BLT order a while back, and it is quite a spice/mineral juice bomb. Decent leaves that surprisingly have a few buds despite being generally on the stemmier side, rich and nuanced aroma that permeates through the dry leaf, wet leaf and empty cup, vibrant liquor, decent flavour with a slight bit of nuance and potency but could definitely do a lot better in those regards, as the flavour doesn’t have a distinct complexity but rather feels like a bundle of nuance (as reflected by my flavour notes). Texture is juicy and not the most astringent, character is average to decent but the session was relatively easy going. Finish & aftertaste is quite present, not the most potent especially in terms of the finish but it’s there and it is quite decent for huangpian, buzzy cha-qi is mediocre to decent but there, and the steep longevity is average to decent.
Overall, a really good value for this tea that surprised me quite a lot through the session, and for around $0.10/g, definitely could grab a tong to see how this tea moves a long without much of a financial dent.
Flavors: Acidic, Anise, Bitter, Bittersweet, Cardamom, Chalk, Cinnamon, Cumin, Floral, Fruity, Honeysuckle, Juicy, Mineral, Sawdust, Smooth, Spices, Sugarcane, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Sweet, Warm Grass, Vegetal
I probably could have let this puerh rest a bit longer since this order only just arrived, but I just couldn’t resist trying at least oneeee of the new ripes! The liquor is thick and oily and coats the mouth, with a soothing medicinal bitterness to close out the extremely brothy and woody mid sip. What’s interesting is that, before getting into the meat of the infusions, the top notes are almost creamy like fresh churned butter. Though this is short lived as the oak and umami kick in. All of this rounds out with a pleasant sweet aftertaste. Quite interesting.
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/CjgaXiaON58/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRyZdDNT8c0
Nice dancong! I got this tea from my BLT order, and it’s relatively decent. Beautiful leaves with a slight golden sheen, rich aroma that’s pervasive through the dry, wet leaf and empty cup. Decent liquor that is viscous but slightly dull. Nice flavour that is relatively rich and nuanced but fall short of exceptional, juicy texture that still brings an astringent aspect to the session. Average to decent “shan yun” in the character with the tea slightly shifting to a more mineral, body-centric flavour from the fragrant floral notes at the start. The finish is relatively okay, good level of astringency with a decent refreshness and a sweet yet juicy aftertaste. Cha-qi is a bit disappointing but the buzziness is still there, and the steep longevity is better than average, topping out at steep 11-12.
Decent tea overall but would need to be much more to reach an exceptional status.
Flavors: Alkaline, Astringent, Celery, Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Honey, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Juicy, Marine, Mineral, Soap, Spices
Sipdown! (13 | 287)
Mastress Alita’s Sipdown Challenge (October) – “A Chinese tea”
Another poor neglected tea from an old Bitterleaf sampler that I got over three years ago. Sorry, tea. I guess at least it’s a tea that ages well? :P
This is lovely. I steeped it at a white tea temperature (185°F for me) without a second thought, where really boiling water is probably more appropriate for a pressed white tea. But I have no regrets, because it’s delicious prepared this way. Light and creamy, like a fluffy oat-y marshmallow cloud. It’s difficult to believe there’s no milk added, really. There are some gentle dried fruit notes as well that add a nice honeyed sweetness. But mostly it’s reminding me of some kind of light and delicious oat-based baked good.
Flavors: Cream, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Grain, Hay, Honey, Milk, Nuts, Oats, Smooth, Sweet, Thick
update: BLT reached out to me and allowed me to reorder the gaiwan with free shipping. Thanks to Jonah for following up on this! Very excited for it.
pretty fantastic for the price. is this great tea? no. is it great value? absolutely. hard to call basic shou anything special, as generally seems to be the case, but if I didn’t have too much shou already (and if it wasn’t out of stock…), I would consider purchasing more maybe. I still have a gripe with BLT that they cancelled the gaiwan part of my order, but didn’t notify me until after shipping. The gaiwan was the main reason I even ordered.
generic base root, sweet taste, some slight chocolate as is characteristic of LCT. Sometimes can get a slight date/dried jujube like note. longer steeps can solve the issue w/ thinness.
Decent-ish sheng! I got the dragon ball samples of this tea from my recent BLT order, and of course it isn’t a world-beater, but for the price, I’d say it punches above its weight. Nice leaves with relatively medium bud content, with a decent aroma and a nice liquor. The tea had a decent flavour with a slight nuance but lacked richness and potency. Smooth texture with a slight juiciness to the mouth, paired with an okay-ish character throughout the session. The finish & aftertaste was there but a bit absent, and the steep longevity is roughly average I’d say. Cha-qi was definitely missing in this tea, but what can I expect from a tea that really is quite cheap already.
Definitely better teas out there, but this tea is a relatively solid candidate for daily-drinker status.
Flavors: Almond, Creamy, Fruity, Hay, Honey, Melon, Papaya, Smooth, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Sweet, Warm Grass