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Sample Sipdown (709)!
This was one of my free samples from the joint order that I placed w/ my coworker. I finished it off last night Gongfu, with some strong steeping parameters. The sample was two little mini tuochas and I figured out that I could brew both of them in a gaiwan at a 1g/10ml ratio so that’s what I did. I wanted some thick shou!
Brewing it that strong made for a very bold session w/ incredibly thick liquor. Still quite smooth though with lots of notes of damp soil, minerality, date spread, shredded wheat, and a bit of a savory/brothy finish. Went very well with my strawberries & plums!!
I only steeped around seven infusions though I guarantee the tea could go longer; but in some ways it was like drinking hot infusions of thick oil – tasty oil though. It was very, very filling is more what I was trying to get at, though…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oeNKBdF0lQ
Placed a CS order a week or so ago w/ a coworker because we were both interesting in trying some things – including this aged Sun Moon Lake, which was the first time either of us had even seen aged SML! We were super curious, but for $45/50g neither of us wanted to blindly order it in that high a quantity. So we split the 50g, which made the price tag a little more palatable…
I steeped this Gongfu to test it out – it was really quite lovely! I don’t think I could blindly identify this as Sun Moon Lake based on the flavours observed in the session, and I think that’s likely a good indicator that something has happened during the ‘aging process’ for this tea. Is is a good something? Well I think that’s debatable – because if you want a SML that has typical SML notes you’re probably going to be let down. However, as its own flavour profile it’s really lovely!
Here’s what I wrote on instagram:
Lovely, thick liquor and a VERY sweet profile – notes of dense, syrupy cooked down/stewed plums & red fruit, with a hint of raisin and a bit of malt, leather and mild warming spices (nutmeg?) in the finish…
I look forward to finishing the rest off because it’s so tasty – however, if I’m looking at this from the perspective of smiles to $$$/g spent I don’t think I’d reorder it. It’s good, but it’s also pricey. Instead I’m going to treat this as what it is – I special treat for myself and new experience on my tea bucket list!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftwMLH962-o
Wow this tea has everything it takes to surprise someone who is not familiar with dan congs! It has an astringency that become more prominent with each brews. I really enjoyed this tea! Floral and fruity yummy!
Flavors: Bitter Melon, Dark Wood, Flowers, Guava
This is a simple but tasty black tea with a weakish aroma. I picked it up at the Toronto Tea Festival earlier this year. It has a good balanced astringency and bitterness. As for the taste, I get notes of toffee, roasted grains and a minty/cooling finish. The aftertaste is quite expansive and spicy.
After the session, I noticed the leaves still have a slight green hue to them. This is not a fully oxidized black tea, which is interesting to see.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Grain, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Spearmint, Spicy, Toffee
I am an unapologetic milk-in-my-tea person. Unless it’s NOT a black tea, or if it’s got a fruit flavor, I’m most likely going to add milk to it. I just can’t with this. I don’t want to ruin it. It’s perfect as it is – aromatic, with honey-like notes and an almost fruity finish. This was a generous, not free (but very reasonable!) sample from a tea expo in NY from too long ago, but it’s still lovely, and confirms Camellia Sinensis as a serious, quality tea vendor IMO. It’s a beautiful Chinese black, and I could drink it forever. Even nice as a cold brew using the spent leaves. I would buy more, but will have to hold off as I’ve got the same problem as other tea drinkers – too much tea, not enough time.
Gongfu! (Also last tasting note in the queue – I made good time today)
Finally had a chance to use my beautiful panda pot from BLT; it’s the one that I seasoned a while back with this same tea. The plan, right now, is to only use it for Jin Shuan but we shall see if I decide to expand that dedication over time…
Paired this one with a pint of delicious Quebec Strawberries; no word of a lie they were the best strawberries I’ve ever had. I’m not sure why, but produce in general just seems to be so much better here!? Instagram Notes from the session: Beautiful oolong, with fresh linen and soft, delicate green notes. It’s also so buttery and floral, with a thick and creamy mouthfeel, that I’m kind of getting a strawberries & cream vibe!! Perfection!!
This bad boy lasted around eight good infusions; not the longest I’ve gotten from an oolong but not bad either!
(Obsessed with this band right now…)
I’m on a big Yiwu kick right now – so last weekend I picked up a couple different offerings from CS. It’s very nice being able to get and smell the teas in person, really helped me gauge which ones I wanted to try the most of their current offerings…
This was very pleasant, but unexpected in a lot of ways. Here’s what I wrote about it on instagram, since I think I did a great job of conveying my thoughts into words in my posting there:
“Really, realllllyyy interesting tea! It took a very long time for the flavours to build up but they were super lovely. A silky, soft mouthfeel w/ notes of vanilla bean, delicate and sweet apricot (not a dense, syrupy/overripe stonefruit note), and mellow + creamy trace of marshmallow leaf. A sweet, cooling/camphorous finish – very clean and crisp. It’s sort of jarring seeing the deeper amber liquor from the insusions, but getting such a soft, silky and delicate flavour profile. I’m not one to experience “tea drunkenness” too heavily or frequently, but about halfway through the session I found myself with the warm, cozy body feeling of being slightly buzzed – and it wasn’t just the heat of the apartment! I love forward to drinking the rest of the sample.
So yeah, it was a good tea! Any time I get a natural vanilla note in a tea is a good day, honestly. But also, I’ve never really experienced marshmallow leaf as a note in other teas before, so that was a super unique thing that jumped out to me!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4Gc04OX4PU
This is the 2018 spring harvest. I know, I can’t believe I’m drinking a tea that’s less than a year old! I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 203F for 30, 20, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus two long steeps at the end of the session.
The dry leaf smells like heady lilacs and orchids with a hint of citrus. The first steep is highly floral, with lilacs, gardenias, jasmine, and orchids, plus a vegetal backbone, maybe some parsley, and strong citrus hints. The mouthfeel is a bit oily and the aftertaste is like exhaling perfume. (This is a compliment in my books.) The second steep is more herbaceous, with a saline quality that I noticed because the website pointed it out. If I had to compare it with anything, it would be the Man Lou Xiang from the same company.
The next couple steeps become slightly more vegetal, though still heavily floral and citrusy. However, it’s starting to slide into green tea territory. Steeps five to eight have softer florals, less citrus, and a more saline, vegetal profile. I steeped the tea twice more because I didn’t want to let go, and while the steeps were quite vegetal, they were still tasty.
I highly recommend this tea to anyone who likes floral, slightly fruity oolongs. I can see myself ordering it again.
Flavors: Blood orange, Citrus, Floral, Gardenias, Herbaceous, Jasmine, Orchid, Parsley, Perfume, Salty, Vegetal
I’ve been eyeing up this maple tea ever since CS announced/released it – and thankfully one of my coworkers went out and bought some before I had a chance to, otherwise I would have gone and got some for myself and wound up with 50g of a tea I just am not really into. Like, the dry leaf smelled good – natural maple and a little bit woody/malty. I just found the steeped profile very underwhelming. I know this is natural maple/not really flavoured at all so I didn’t expect anything overly intense – but the maple was so weak/light and not particularly sweet at all. I mean, the black tea base they’ve mixed it with is quite nice: woody, malty and a little bit of a honey taste. However, since the maple didn’t really bring much to the table for me I might as well have just sought out the base itself and drunk that instead…
But now I know, and at least I didn’t blind buy 50g of it.
This tea is much much better when steeped just 4 minutes and not…..however long it was last time. I think I’ll even try 3 next time. The black tea still tastes very ‘dark’ to me here. Not really finding any other words than that. Not quite bitter but i did add some additional sweetener and milk as the package recommended. Quite tasty and I’ve been sharing with a friend at work. This is good but I’ll probably not buy it again.
On our way home from the Sugar Shack, the couple that I had carpooled with and I stopped at a cafe for a proper cup of tea – like many of the cafes here in Montreal, the tea that they were serving came from Camellia Sinensis. I couldn’t remember if I’d actually had this tea before or not – but I didn’t really love the other options available (different green teas, Earl Grey…) so I picked this one for my tea.
Turns out that I have not had this before prior to now, but it is really similar in taste to a couple teas in my cupboard – namely “Surprise Rooibos” from Granville Island Tea Company, which is also just a hodge podge of ingredients thrown into a blend. The main flavour that pops out among all the other things is grapefruit, and lemongrass. Not AMAZING by any stretch, and CS certainly carries far better teas. However, after an afternoon of pretty mediocre teas out at the sugar shack this cup of tea was heavenly. Plus, I think I’m just really on a grapefruit kick at the moment so I really appreciated the grapefruit notes.
I would never purchase this though as loose leaf for at home…
Thanks to Roswell Strange for my first Columbian black tea! How exciting!
Felt like a straight black today, and since this was staring me in the face, I went for it. Initial smell of the leaf was robust and rich, malty and maybe a hint chocolatey – so a great first impression! Brewed up, it was the oddest thing – when it was warm, it tasted like straight up cooked sweet potato. Or butternut squash. I wasn’t quite sure, but it wasn’t sweet. It was very intriguing, but of course I then left the house and the tea cooled; cool it tastes like a nice, malty black – not my favourite profile, but on the yummy side. One weird thing, though – when it was hot, there was the slightest bit of fishiness. I can’t rule out some sort of contamination, as I’ve had pu’erh in infusers lately, and also had smoked salmon yesterday (though I can’t imagine having contaminated an infuser with it). It did dissipate as the tea cooled, though.
Something that someone at the office had, and I realized that I’ve never actually had CS’s Silver Needle before despite having tried a bunch of other weird or interesting white teas that they offer – so I asked if I could make myself a cup and was told “Of course, help yourself!”. I love being in an office of tea people…
This was fine, but nothing to write home over. A little bit fruity, but mostly just your typical floral and straw notes. Kind of chamomile-y, which is probably at least part of why I didn’t LOVE it. Not big into that flavor profile…
This is quite an interesting tea. I pulled it out of the TTB and am enjoying my last cup.
There is a lot of lemon and strawberry, it actually tastes a lot like lemon and strawberry PEZ mixed together, but without the sweetness. The base is flavourful and lightly floral. I think it is is a vegetal white like Bai Mu Dan) because there are some herby and bok choy vegetal notes that stand out. It also reminds me of pineapple, maybe based on the acidity and fruity flavour.
Flavors: Candy, Citrus, Floral, Lemon, Pineapple, Strawberry, Vegetal
This Dragonwell isn’t anything special but it is a pleasant cup; it strikes the right balance between a pleasantly nutty and grassy profile. Nuts are the thing that hooked me onto this type of tea years back when I was just learning that green tea doesn’t necessarily equate to Bitter Veggies of Death. To this day, as long as a hazelnut, peanut, or sesame profile is present and the leaves aren’t burnt and astringent (looking at you David’s Tea Dragonwell circa 2012), I’m more or less in a nostalgic happy place.
To double the nostalgia, I’ve been using this as a filler base for my remaining With Open Eyes from Butiki (A Strawberry Ginger Dragonwell blend from 2015). That Butiki blend is essentially a wilted brown hue now, but the ginger and strawberry are still quite bright; they just need a nut-grass pick-me-up!
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Hazelnut, Nuts, Peanut, Spinach
The moot (mock trial) that has been causing me so much stress is finally done. I did it last night and this weekend I can finally relax. I am still worried about drinking too much tea so I have been avoiding it or only having a cup but at least I can just hang out at home and relax if I am dizzy…
I am currently sipping on this tea shared by Roswell Strange while watching the strangest documentary, Abducted in Plain Sight, and trying to not order ice cream or bubble tea despite a wicked craving.
This tea has a nice apricot flavor but it is also very floral from the base tea. Floral and a touch roasted. It is good though I don’t love the base tea. There is a slight twang here that pulls me out of the juicy and sweet apricot notes.
Thank you for sharing, Roswell Strange!
“I picture…a field of grass…covered in whip cream.”
My girlfriend, upon taking the first sip of the first steep.
The pitcher is left with such a pleasant, sweet aroma, which reminds me of high mountain oolongs. The wet leaves, have a strong iodised/sea smell.
The second steep was left just a tad too long, hitting me with more of those sea notes. Very grassy, slight umami, slight bitterness, thick in texture.
After the third steep, I’m left with a thick sweetness on the tongue. So pleasant. The still still shines bright yellow, with a hint of green.
Before event starting to brew this tea, knowing I’m about to take notes on my experience, it hits me how little I’ve paid attention to what Japanese green teas taste like. Now, to take a moment and appreciate fully.
The dry leaves give me hint of seaweed, and nori. Sweet and umami.
The first steep’s liquor is yellow with strong green tint. Smelling it, I get some nuts. It’s a very warming smell.
A quick look at the wet leaves reveal how brightly green they are, so I ran around the room with the teapot in hands, trying to catch the best natural light to fully enjoy the sight.
I left my first steep cool down quite a bit before sipping it. I get the typical umami flavours of Japanese green, with a slight bitterness at the back. I take the time to analyse what flavours hit me. And the more I think, the more I’m reminded of clams, with a heavy iodine taste at the back of my tongue.
On the second steep, the tea is a bright yellow. The aromas are warmer. Cooked vegetables…possibly string beans. It feels like everything sea-like is now gone.
A pleasing sweetness lingers at the back of the tongue.
The third steep continues in the same vein as the second, still going strong. The fourth steep starts to dilute down, becoming a bit more watery.
Overall, a highly pleasant sencha.
The wet leaves give hint of a pleasant light roast, and sweet grass.
The 1st steep, I’m hit by how silky this tea is. The tea aromas remind me of small, fresh flowers. Already, I’m hit by a strong, sweet lingering aftertaste.
The second steep is still as silky as the first. I’m getting some grassy notes through the flowers.
Sipping on the 3rd steep, the tea feels heavy on the tongue, and still gives away sweet grass and flowers.
Around the 6th steep, the tea starts to lose in texture, and gains astringency. Still, it leaves a nice aftertaste.
It took me a month to record notes on this tea, after sharing a gong fu session at the Camellia Sinensis tea house, but I couldn’t let this one pass without a word about it.
A tea recommended to celebrate my yearly passage back at home. And what an experience it was!
Amongst the first shou pu er to be made, the process was not yet fully standardized, offering a different palette of taste. I remember, we were not in the typical shou puer flavours. Instead, the tea offered the fruitiness of dried plums, mixed with the fermented umami of soy sauce.
Good times, in good company, for many many steeps.
I chose this sample from VariaTEA because I thought it would make a good strong morning tea before work, but when I saw how dark it brewed up I was a little nervous. It’s actually quite smooth, and not really astringent at all, but it hasn’t aged the best and I know that’s my fault and not the tea’s. I’m almost through all of my little plastic baggie samples, and aim to be completely done with them before the end of next month. Most of them have held up pretty well but a few, this one included, have become victims of age. There is a definite rich chocolate scent lingering in the air around the cup, but sadly this doesn’t translate into the flavour. Plain it’s more a vanilla tea, a pinch of sugar brings out the chocolate slightly more and a splash of milk doesn’t do much but give it a richer mouthfeel. I’m annoyed with myself because I bet this tea would have been just what I was hoping for today if it were fresher. Rating without factoring in the fustiness.