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Recent Tasting Notes
J is for… Jin Shuan
Thank you Roswell Strange for the share! I am having this while eating Wendy’s and watching Drag Race. It’s an odd combo since I don’t usually have tea with my meals and if I do, it’s usually cold and picked to go with the meal. This just sort of worked out to be the accompaniment to my meal.
It’s smooth and a touch metallic. Some roastiness. It’s also quite buttery. It doesn’t stand out among other oolongs but it’s a solid option. Also works with the meal better than I expected it to.
Really interesting flash steep one that keeps giving for days. I was a little concerned it would be tricky to brew, but flashing the hot water when I’m not paying attention was fine and it gave me plenty of variety in flavor.
While a bit sharp and bitter with it’s char, it’s got a pretty complex character that meshes smoke with some bright red and orange fruity elements amidst water stream minerals. My brain likes the combo because it gives me a lot of sensual output in my imagination, and adds atmosphere while I play Ghost of Tsushima. I know they drank Matcha and most teas were green from the Kamakura period, but the constant onslaught of rain, mountains, sunsets, fire and smoke vibe with this one.
Getting into more precise lingual abstractions of taste and smell, the flavor of the first cup came up with a note I very rarely taste in natural teas: goji berry. I got general fruitiness from the dry leaf, but it was not as pronounced as it was in the cup wet. It was after 10 seconds, but it was rich, a hint floral( orchid-it was not too obvious), incredibly honey sweet, and then finished with nice wisp of smoke in the finish.
Second steep amps up the minerals and the roast bordering on salty, but remains fruity broadening into gooseberry and tropical fruits like guava with the biting acidity of grapefruit. More steeps had more gloshes, and I amped up the steeping time to a minute in steep five, but it was too bitter, so I returned to quick flashes. The flavor improved, and while it had some sharp bitterness that was a little bit more floral, the denser notes of the fruits and charcoal remained.
Currently, it’s leaning more into fruity acidity, but the midtaste is kinda grainy and woodsy reminding me of dried bamboo. Leafhopper nailed the hops and grain.
I’m going to end the note here. It reminds me a lot of David’s Teas old Supreme Oolong they used to sell because of its mineral, fruit smoke “mead” combo. I really liked this tea, but I don’t see myself drinking it often because it can become pretty harsh even with flash steeps gong fu. I do think it’s a lot easier to brew than some dancongs that will take a lot longer to coax some flavor out of since this is consistently amped up in aroma and flavor even in the later steeps.
Definitely a more intermediate to advance drinkers tea that like flavor. As for rating, it’s a tossup between 84-87 for me. It satisfies my needs for what I like in Dancong, though I wouldn’t drink it often due to its sharpness. I’m really glad I got to try it. Thank you Leafhopper!
Flavors: Astringent, Bamboo, Bitter, Char, Charcoal, Citrus, Dried Fruit, Drying, Goji, Grain, Grapefruit, Guava, Honey, Mango, Mineral, Salt, Smoke, Tropical, Wood
Interesting one. Heavy florals and flavor bordering on soapy.
Trying it out intuitive gong fu, the smell was super heady from the wet leaf. It tasted and smell like Orange Glow, and funny enough, there was some pleasant dark woodsiness in the aftertaste in a buttery texture. The second was still floral, bursting with orange blossom, honeysuckle, orange, tangerine, apricot, sweet potato, with some slight bitterness. I’m actually a little overwhelmed right now. Third, the smell is super breadsy like a fresh bagel, or sourdough like Leafhopper mentions. I’m glad I shortened the steep time. The Apricot +orange combined really nicely.
Next few steeps will be shortened, and I will return in a little bit….
I’ve got a few more notes I need to make up…
So after I took some Jasmine on my way to getting the Ghosts of Toshima, I had a little bit of a caffeine Euphoria. Getting back to this tea, 15 seconds, and orange syrup coating sweetness, yams, and some florals giving me a little bit of a headache. The leaves still smell good, but I might have to switch to my more milder ones tonight as I power through some notes and historical gaming.
I feel bad that I’m stopping on this one, but I think I got what I needed to from it. This is my kind of black tea, though a little bit strong in caffeine and florals, even for me. This is the kind of tea I would drink if I was taking things slower, but definitely a tea to drink in the morning on the weekend when I’m not quite awake, and have enough time to be careful and to take in the aroma. I think it would be good for newbies who like citrus as they get into straight teas, and are getting into teas like Earl Grey or Jasmine as a novice reference. However, it could be overpowering, and it looks like I was not the only one.
I’m personally rating it 80, though I think it’s between the 75-85 range in terms of quality to price. The big reason I’m rating it lower is the headache from the HEAVY citrus florals.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Dark Wood, Floral, Fruit Tree Flowers, Honeysuckle, Orange, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Pastries, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
Dirty quickie note before I do some gymnastics tomorrow morning.
Thank you Leafhopper! So, the site is surprisingly sparse on the description of this one, and cranks up the floral profile on their tastometer. I’m sorry, that was too American of me: “flavOUR wheel.”
Onto the tea-it’s good. I gong fu’d it in my Manual Tea brewer (essentially, a gaiwan with a double walled glass vessel) in a rinse. Mostly green, and soft. Texture is oily as expected.
First steep after 25 sec, honeysuckle, lettuce, a little bit of apple skin, though crisp more than fruity. Boomin aroma.
Second steep, 35, more floral, a little lighter, but still refreshing with the lettuce. Gardenia.
Third after 25, gardenia and honeysuckle dominant aroma, more florals in flavor, lettuce, green bean in a short aftertaste. Aroma is more pronounced than taste.
Fourth, honeysuckle, lilac, some greens.
Fifth, more green. A little bit of lime, but mostly green and viscous.
6th, florals, spinach. I lost attention while helping my brother out with his college paper.
7th, flash steep, osmanthus aroma, osmanthus in the taste, but a little grassy.
Mini-reflection- good one. I am already biased, and like Shan Lin Xi from the company more. Tea is very smooth and nicely vegetal, but I personally could use a little bit more flavor. Mid-tier in my personal Lishan rankings so far, upper middle tier for overall teas. Definitely liked it. I need to do another quickie not before I come back to this one, and then off to bed for muscle up tomorrow.
Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Osmanthus, Spinach, Sweet
2021 sipdown no. 65
This started out okay. I mean, it wasn’t my favourite. There was the mineral taste with not much that I could specifically pinpoint in the background. But as the tea cooled it got more and more bitter. I was watching an interview and was quite engrossed and still the bitterness cut through.
I wish I went into this one blind so I would not write notes based on the power of persuasion. My allergies are also just getting to me in the middle of this snow filled spring day on April 1st, so April Fools. But I am starting the day with one of my favorite kinds of tea.
I brewed this up in my gong fu to go, 5 oz. Ish, and doing it 25, 30, 35, and four more flash steeps. First brew was light, creamy, and crisp. I got lettuce, coconut, butter, and nuttiness. Second steep and later steeps in this half of the session were dominated by the Macadamia for me, and the viscous texture reminded me of almond milk. I did get the weird cherry note, but it wasn’t obviously cherry. It was more subtle like cascara, or coffee cherry. Maybe fresh cherry is better.
There were also more florals like plumeria, which bloomed in steep three, but dissipated. I think that’s the vanilla note the site mentions, but it’s too floral and subdued for me to think vanilla. The recent florals have leaned more vaguely in the honeysuckle and hyacinth (how many times have I mentioned that one) direction, but the tea is overall creamy, like “Fresh, creamery butter…”
The leaves were getting trapped, so I gave the tea a bigger vessel, and just did 8 oz. I tasted a little bit more mango in hints, really more in texture. Coconut, butter, nutt approximations of macadamia and almond, and then wheat grass.
There’s more to go, but I’m not sure what else to add. This is an especially creamy and nutty Shanlinxi that I like. Without my kyusu, which has been broken and disposed for a few months, I’ve been kinda limited in my larger gong fu sessions. It could be why I feel like I’ve missed things in recent gong fu sessions, or I could just be rushing them too much like an assembly line as time itself fades into yesterday, minute by minute in this limbo of a spring break.
But hey, I have tea for my existential moments. As for my usual general audience blurb, this is great for the price and one of the better Shanlinxi’s I’ve had. I still prefer to get some from my usual stops, but I do recommend this one. I think it’s best for intermediate drinkers since it might be too vegetal for super newbies, but it’s a great one to introduce people to high mountain teas and Shan lin xi. I’m also going to hold off on rating it for now until I get more from this session. I’m slowly getting more pineapple now than I did before, especially as it cools off.
Few hours later, and I’m ready to rate it. It’s higher tier for price to flavor ratio, and it’s very durable. I wish I divided it into one session for gong fu, and the other for tumbler fuel. 88-90 is the number range I’m feeling. I really like it.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Cherry, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Grass, Lettuce, Milk, Nutty, Pineapple, Spinach, Sweet
I’d assumed that this was a wuyi before reading Leafhoppers note, but the sharpness and minerality was Dancong. I was also a dummy with this one.
The dryleaf was very fruity, and reminded me of kiwi and salted grapefruit. I dumped the entire sample in my Gongfu2go tumbler, was going to flash steep it-until-I ignored it while cooking. 35 seconds, and it’s sharp, tart, mineraled, sweet, and bitter. Kiwi, grapefruit, minerals, honeysuckle, and a sour finish. A bit too strong, but something I could enjoy and work with.
I did too more flash steeps; one last night, and one this morning. The second steep was stronger with grapefruit for me, and again, a little bit too bitter and sour. The third steep needed a transfer of vessels, so I put it in one of my French Presses-NOT PUSHING DOWN THE PRESS OF COURSE (barbarians) for more room. Kiwi and more sour fruits. The tartness is a lot more balanced this time, with some mineral.
Now, another steep, 25 ish seconds, and more florals than fruits alone. Still sharp, but lilies, jasmine(or osmanthus?), again, honeysuckle, salt, char, fruit, and acidity. I can partially see peach, but it would be a younger peach. It’s still more kiwi to me with its tartness.
I could probably push this one, but it’s a bit tart for my preferences. I ignored wisdom in using more leaves than I should have, thus I get the session I have. Dancongs being tart or bitter is nothing new for me and why I either love them or dislike them. This one is in the middle. I personally liked the roast, and did not find it to be too prominent. I was more distracted by the acidity. I’m glad I tried it and it ranks as a tea in the variety I like, but it’s just okay overall since it was personally too sharp.
Flavors: Bitter, Char, Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Grapefruit, Honeysuckle, Melon, Mineral, Pleasantly Sour, Salt, Sour, Tart
2021 sipdown no. 63
This one has that mineral flavour that I find oolongs get, but there’s also a lovely maltiness cut through with hints of floral here that adds a nice depth.
The second steep has just slightly dulled flavours, but it allows the maltiness to almost come neck in neck with the mineral, which was nice.
1st steep 4 minutes
2nd steep 5.5 minutes
I’m happy to have tried this one, but that mineral flavour just isn’t my favourite.
Dry leaf smells like spiced walnuts, pineapple-mango-coconut, vanilla sugar and flowers. Wamring brings out a sweet, creamy vegetal character with spinach, coconut cream, walnut and vanilla sugar. Intoxicating. Rinse brings out a more pungent, tropical fruit character with pineapple, mango, coconut and jackfruit on a spinachy base.
The leaves quickly unfurl. The tea is silky, oily, mouth-watering with salt and other minerals. Complex, rich and evolving aromas, tastes and aftertastes. The strength of the aroma gives the illusion of sweetness, but I’d say the tea is rather mineral-salty and somewhat tangy. Lofty notes of coconut cream, vanilla sugar and rich white florals on a crisp lettuce-straw base change to macadamia and coconut to cream and butter. The aftertaste contains the fruitier notes of the tea. The sweet aromatics blend seamlessly into the aftertaste and when that subsides, the fruitier notes of the tea display with green apple skins and pineapple. Some gentle cooling in the mouth early and later, an impression of sugarcane fills the throat. At the end of the session, coconut and floral vanilla make another appearance in the aftertaste. Burps bring out some of that spinach quality of the warmed leaf.
This tea easily takes boiling water and lower and does well with a variety of brewing methods. I couldn’t stop preparing cup after cup. It’s really that easy-drinking and addictive. The creamy quality of the tea suggest Jin Xuan cultivar to me but I see it’s actually Qing Xin. A beautiful representation of Shan Lin Xi. Thank you, Leafhopper :)
Flavors: Apple Skins, Butter, Coconut, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Green Apple, Lettuce, Mango, Mineral, Mint, Nuts, Orchid, Pineapple, Salty, Spices, Spinach, Straw, Sugar, Sugarcane, Tangy, Tropical, Vanilla, Walnut
I was pleased to see this unusual type of Dan Cong in Camellia Sinensis’ catalogue. This is the April 2020 harvest. I initially steeped it as I normally would a Dan Cong (6 g, 120 ml, 195F, 7/10/12/15, etc.), but it tasted like roast, apple, and fake movie popcorn butter. I’m hoping the parameters given by the Camellia Sinensis team in the 2020 summer sessions will produce better results. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 203F for 25, 10, 25, 40, 55, 70, 85, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of roast, chocolate, honeydew melon, flowers, and caramel. Roast is the dominant note in the first steep, along with caramel, toast, butter, wood, honeydew melon, kiwi, and faint florals. The next steep resolves the florals into lilies, orchids, and other flowers, though the tea is a bit sharp. The third steep has notes of honey, malt, and faint apple, with the roast still being the most noticeable quality. By steep five, there’s a funky rye bread sort of note, combined with strong roast, charcoal, honey, caramel, toast, and faint flowers. This steep has a nice floral aftertaste. The final steeps have flavours of strong roast, charcoal, tannins, honey, and nuts.
Using the steeping instructions from Camellia Sinensis produced a much nicer session, though the prominent roast detracted somewhat from my enjoyment of this tea. I like its thick body and interesting florals, but wish they’d stand up to that roast a little more. I need to find some more lightly roasted Dan Congs, or even some unroasted ones if that’s a thing.
Flavors: Brown Toast, Butter, Caramel, Char, Chocolate, Floral, Honey, Honeydew, Malt, Nuts, Orchid, Red Apple, Rye, Tannin, Wood
2021 sipdown no. 68
I’m planning on placing a CS order this Friday since I’m running low on Earl Grey Cream and I doubt I can live without it. This means I’m also enjoying cups of other CS teas in my cupboard to see what else needs to be added to the order.
I am really enjoying this tea, and this is a sipdown of the wee sample I ordered in February. I can’t decide whether or not I should order 50g of this one. I have a TTC Gui Fei in the cupboard I can’t bring myself to drink, but perhaps I should attempt to finish that one first?
I enjoy that the floral and mineral aspects to this tea are toned down and fall toward the background, while a lovely sweetness bubbles more forward and the three together create a nice balance.
This tea is so tasty! I have such mixed feelings on the Gui Fei it seems. I loved Butiki, did not enjoy Taiwan Tea Crafts, and now love this one.
I only have one more cups worth in my sample and I’ve drank 2-3 steeps of each cups worth from the sample and each one has been so tasty I’ve sipped it down far too quickly.
The floral aspect is very much toned down and far more in the background here as just an accent, if that. There’s a sweet baked type flavour with very little to almost no mineral, oolong-y type flavour that I’m not much of a fan of.
I don’t think this review really does this tea a lot of justice, but it’s a re-order for sure.
1st steep 4 minutes
2nd steep 5.5 minutes
I’m drinking this tea for Mastress Alita’s St. Patrick’s Day challenge, as I either forgot about the other theme days or didn’t have appropriate teas for them. I don’t have an Irish breakfast tea, so I decided to go with a very, very old green. I bought this poor, unloved, and sort of pricy gyokuro around five years ago, then “archived” it because I wasn’t sure I was steeping it properly. (Camellia Sinensis only gives instructions for the first three steeps.) I also thought I’d posted a note on this tea, but I must have had it in my pre-Steepster days. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml clay kyusu at 160F for 25, 10, 15, 30, 45, 60, and 120 seconds.
There’s a reason you shouldn’t keep green teas for five years! The originally vibrant raspberry notes are there but muted, and the sunflower seed note is a bit stale. I also get spinach, lettuce, broccoli, cream, and umami. Later steeps add asparagus, green pepper, and minerals to the mix, and fortunately the stale sunflower seeds aren’t as prominent.
I might consider buying this tea again, but only if I can finish it in a reasonable time!
Flavors: Asparagus, Broccoli, Cream, Green Pepper, Lettuce, Mineral, Raspberry, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal
Alright y’all, here’s my Birthday Tea (several days ago now). I was born in 1983 — a tea one year off fits the bill well enough. I don’t feel old, even around teenagers but put in the perspective of tea years, I should be tasteless and dry by now. But I am neither! And neither is this tea. It smells a little musty, dusty and sour so in human years, I’d put this around 85 years old :P
The dry leaf smells a little of this, a little of that — sour, musty, dusty, woody, cookie, soy sauce. Warmed, it smells rich and sweet with date syrup-coffee-caramel, aged wood and pepperoni, fire-spicy, complex. The rinsed leaf smells like stale coffee, wet earth and wet vegetation. Once brewed, the tea has a forward note of ash. Its general character is spicy, woody, and mineral with a gentle unrefined palm sugar type sweetness. There’s also kind of an underlying umami-seaweed tone. There’s an awesome black sesame oil high note (lets say peanut for the sake of adding to the flavor/aroma list) that pierces through everything for 4 or 5 infusions. That note smells and tastes exactly like the homemade black sesame ice cream the sushi chef gifted me with my pandemic to-go birthday dinner.
Thanks, Leafhopper, for allowing me a sample of the oldest tea I’ve had thus far! It was an interesting sip for sure and not a bad one by any means. It’s still a supple, complex oolong with a bit of an opinionated fiery bite.
Flavors: Ash, Biting, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Coffee, Cookie, Dates, Dust, Meat, Mineral, Mint, Musty, Peanut, Plants, Pleasantly Sour, Seaweed, Smooth, Soy Sauce, Spicy, Sweet, Umami, Wet Earth, Wood
2021 sipdown no. 75
I cold brewed this and somehow it’s even less enjoyable than hot brewed. The cold brew has allowed the full fledged cloying-ness to come forward and I just can’t understand why there has to be so many flavours in this tea. Less would definitely be more here.
There is a bit of a sweetness here that I’m not loving, that seems to cover up some of the more delightful flavours. I’m assuming the sweetness is from the mulberry leaves. There’s definitely cranberry and hints of orange underneath the sweetness. I’d prefer the cranberry and orange at the forefront instead!
When Derk said this tea might be losing its edge, I thought I’d better start sipping down my remaining 45 g. It’s from the spring 2020 harvest. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of lemon, orchid, lily, lilac, and a vegetal note I read as spinach. The first steep is very floral, with orchids, lilies, and lilacs, plus grass, lettuce, artichoke, and lemon. The pronounced peach/apricot aftertaste is definitely the best part of the sip. In steep two, the lemon combined with the sweetness indeed reminds me of lemon curd. The stonefruit also shows up in the aroma and taste, not just the aftertaste, which makes the lettuce/artichoke note more palatable. I also get some herbaceous notes. In the third steep, I get more generic citrus, baked bread, pleasant sourness, and extra veggies. That stonefruit aftertaste is still impressive.
By steep five, the veggies are winning the fight for supremacy with the stonefruit. The lily florals are still present but are subsiding and I’m getting some metallic notes. The best part of this tea is still the aftertaste. The tea gets increasingly vegetal and astringent in the next few rounds, although the stonefruit aftertaste continues until the tenth steep or so. The end of the session is dominated by veggies, astringency, minerals, and grass, with wisps of stonefruit hanging on for dear life.
While this is by no means the best Tie Guan Yin I’ve had (that honour goes to YS’s Competition TGY), I think this is a middle-of-the-road example of this tea. I kind of expect some astringency in Tie Guan Yin, and the stonefruit makes up for many of its flaws. I won’t have any trouble finishing the rest of this package, although I may not buy more.
Flavors: Apricot, Artichoke, Astringent, Baked Bread, Citrus, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Lemon, Lettuce, Metallic, Mineral, Orchid, Peach, Pleasantly Sour, Spinach, Tangy, Vegetal
Dry leaf aroma is strong but at the same time also muted with a range including floral sweet pea, lily and lilac, baked goods, lemon curd, creamy peas, artichoke. The sip is upfront very floral with mostly lily. This leads into a sharp mouthfeel with tang. I taste crisp lettuce, high-pitched citrus, dry grass, a dark lemon curd, earth and wood. The aftertaste explodes with apricot-peach which gives way to a green sugarcane returning sweetness.
The astringency and bitterness come out after several steeps, leaving my tongue rough and numb. As each steep becomes more astringent, it also grows metallic. If you don’t mind astringency, this tea does have good longevity. Overall, this tea has a good range of flavors and mouthfeels but it was tough for me to appreciate after 4 or so short infusions. This one is flavorwise steps above the very tame Tie Guan Yin that can be had at Chinese restaurants. I’m guessing it’s merely past its prime.
Thank you for the sample, Leafhopper :) It’s been a few years since I’ve had a green Tie Guan Yin. It’s always nice to go back to one of the first loose-leaf style teas I bought – I think it was once of those large canisters offered by Tao of Tea.
Flavors: Apricot, Artichoke, Astringent, Baked Bread, Bitter, Citrusy, Cream, Dry Grass, Drying, Earth, Floral, Flowers, Garden Peas, Lemon, Lettuce, Metallic, Peach, Sugarcane, Tangy, Wood
2021 sipdown no. 55
I need to order this more of this one. I don’t get any astringency and today there’s a hint of a cinnamon digestive-type cookie one might have alongside tea. The second steep still has lots of flavour too!
1st steep 3.5 minutes
2nd steep 5 minutes
2021 sipdown no. 77
I placed a CS order yesterday with this tea included, but this is the end of the stash currently in my cupboard, so I’ll count that as a sipdown.
I really enjoy this tea. It’s a unique tea and a nice change from my many malty teas. This one is more woody with hints of sweetness that are different than most of my other straight black teas.
The MRI is back open and today was the first official scan for our lab in over a year, so I was in the hospital all day as the person responsible for doing the scan, and it was a lot. I knew this was coming, so everything started strong, but gradually, one thing after another went awry and I spent the day in a state of overwhelm.
I managed to get one cup of this tea in before I headed in to work and thank goodness for that. I’ve been racing through this tea – dare I say it’s a new favourite? It’s so tasty and just hits the spot every time. I finally just got home a few minutes ago and feel ready to collapse, so I made a fresh cup of this to enjoy while I attempt to zone out!
It even resteeps well!
I was quite nervous to order this one because the reviews: one mentions cumin, which I hate, and another mentions fishiness!
However, I took the plunge and ordered 50g and I’m so happy I did! To me this is all sweet maltiness and I love it! It’s got much darker colour than other malty teas that I enjoy, but I truly love this one!
I enjoyed two steeps of this one during some Zoom meetings this afternoon. I really enjoy this one, even with the light oolong base. The flavours complement each other nicely and I love how the apricot is so apparent, yet not fake at all. The massive apricot chunks add so much.
1st steep 4 minutes
2nd steep 5.5 minutes