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Recent Tasting Notes
March Mad(Hatter) Tea Tournament!
Round #1 – Match #13 Daoist Meditation – Jasmine Green VS. Bird & Blend – Hocus Focus
Another odd matchup. I could swear this green tea actually tasted like jasmine when steeped previously, but now I can’t tell that jasmine should be here at all. The green tea is so harsh. This would make it almost impossible for the jasmine to peak through unless it was being used to flavor a harsh green tea. But why make jasmine try to do that anyway? Flavor a nice green with jasmine. They will both elevate the other. The bits of tea are fairly tiny, which is probably why this cup is bad. It’s also not fresh, so not entirely the fault of this poor tea. (And thank you Meowster for sending a tea I’m just now writing a note for!) The Hocus Focus not only has a stellar name, but a unique flavor profile. If it also gives me focusing powers, great. Winner: Hocus Focus
Thanks so much, Meowster! The name is certainly intriguing, the bundles of oolong are certainly huge. I don’t see any actual osmanthus blooms mixed in with the oolong in my small sample — not sure if there should be? This is missing from the shop, at this point. Maybe the name is just lovely and isn’t actually intended to taste like osmanthus? I can’t say it really did taste like osmanthus. But it IS a very tasty oolong anyway. Very thick and syrupy, very smooth. A bit of a roast. I was hoping my oolong tasting buds were more refined by now after some weird tasting oolong months, but no, the flavor details are still a bit foggy. But I can tell this is a high quality oolong, regardless of few details that I can pick apart.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for full mug // 21 minutes after boiling // rinse // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 11 minutes after boiling // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 2 min
Thanks very much, Meowster, from a while ago! The bundles here are HUGE. Probably the biggest bundles of oolong I’ve ever seen. Maybe the bigger bundles mean a more milder flavor? Less leaves in the scoop? The flavor is certainly different from a typical oolong, though tough for me to describe why. Very mineral – very sweet, hint of sweet corn and cream. Kept the flavor going on the second steep. Got busy and didn’t do a third steep the next day… so sadly tossed the leaves on the third day. I won’t use the same leaves for over 72 hours. Had enough to try again though! The second steep session about a month later was much the same. Almost a tangy quality when cooled on the second steep. The third steep session to finish the leaves off, also not really distinct flavors here… not a helpful tasting note… All I’m getting flavor-wise is MILD. OOLONG. Should have been all different parameters with all three steep sessions, and really no change in flavor between ANY of the eight mugs. I’m sure this absolutely tasted much better (and more distinct) when it was fresh, so that is a shame. I love the flavor notes on Leafhopper’s tasting note. I wish I had tasted any of that! But it looks like Leafhopper used many more leaves than I did, so I guess I SHOULD have steeped the second and third steep sessions together. Darn it – should have read Leafhopper’s note sooner.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for full mug // 29 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 22 minutes after boiling // 1 min
Second steep session:
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for full mug // 32 minutes after boiling // rinse // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 25 minutes after boiling // 1 1/2 min
Steep #3 // ??
Third Steep session:
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for full mug // 30 minutes after boiling // rinse // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 20 minutes after boiling // 3 min
Steep #3 // 10 minutes after boiling // 2 min
2020 Sipdowns: 33
I bought this as part of a sampler of three organic teas from San Jing Farms a couple years ago. The tea has outlasted any online information about it, so I don’t know how well it ages or the preferred brewing parameters. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The large, dark, loosely rolled nuggets smell faintly of green grapes, honey, and cereal. Rye bread, nuts, and honey are the dominant notes in the first couple steeps, which is weird because the aroma in the teapot is of honey and eucalyptus. The third steep introduces the eucalyptus and a sour funkiness that I’m beginning to associate with purple teas. The mouthfeel is kind of astringent and tingly. The fourth steep gives the impression of tart jam (maybe gooseberry) on a honey-covered piece of rye bread. However, it’s a little too sour and not as sweet as jam would be.
By steep five, some wood, leather, and grass start to appear. The tea gradually loses its sweetness and becomes more like a dark, nutty banana bread. The flavours last until the final steeps, and I even got a couple long infusions before tossing the leaves.
This is a fascinating oolong with a lot of character, but I don’t love it. I’m drinking down my stash and am realizing why many of these teas are still there.
Flavors: Bread, Eucalyptus, Grain, Grass, Honey, Leather, Nutty, Pleasantly Sour, Tart, Wood
As a fan of Tie Guan Yin oolong, I jumped at the chance to try a black version of this tea a few years ago. The product has been taken off the website, but I remember something about flash steeps, so I took this into account. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma of the dark, spindly leaves is surprisingly Tie Guan Yin like, with grain, caramel, honey, and bananas. The first steep has notes of malt, toasted grain, caramel, and banana. I can understand why flash steeps are important, as the mouthfeel is scratchy and a little astringent. The second steep is like tangy honey-covered banana bread that somehow dries out your mouth. There are malt and tannins in there too. The next few steeps start off with notes of honey, grain, plum, and spice, but the sip ends with a less palatable punch of malt, cardboard, minerals, and tannins. Sadly, these less desirable flavours take over as the session progresses, until, by the eighth steep, it tastes like a high-quality generic black tea.
I don’t know whether it was its age, the brewing parameters, my palate, or just the tea, but this red Tie Guan Yin started promisingly but ended badly. I think I’ll stick to Tie Guan Yin oolongs in the future.
Flavors: Astringent, banana, Caramel, Cardboard, Drying, Grain, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Plum, Spices, Tangy, Tannin
I have this one from October 2017 apparently. Some last rolls in a tin. For first time prepared in gaiwan, so let´s see.
20 s rinse, 30 s steepings
At first it smelled very citrusy, like crushed lemon peel or lemon dish detegrent. That one is unfortunately (or fortunately?) gone with rinse. Now it smells and tastes like grass, maybe bit of hay, quite flowery though. Hmm, not great. Bit bland maybe.
Boring tea. Hay and grass, bit flowers.
Liquor colour is pretty green, with bit of yellow notes. Clear though.
Maybe it is old, maybe just cheap oolong. At least the leaves are quite big; now I have full gaiwan of leaves and almost no space for water.
Flavors: Flowers, Grass, Hay, Lemon, Lemon Zest
I bought this tea as part of a three-oolong sampler in March 2017. There’s no longer any info about it on the website, but I remember that it came from San Jing Farms, that it’s organic, and that it was described as jammy (which made me want to try it). I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
“Jammy” is a good descriptor for this tea. The first steep has tangy notes of blackberries, raspberries, and cranberries, with a base of grass and faint florals. The second gets even more intense, with cream and maybe a bit of vanilla complementing the jammy raspberry profile. In the next couple steeps, a GABA-like funkiness creeps in, though this isn’t a GABA tea; still, it’s very tasty and has no astringency. The jam fades into faint raspberry and grass after the seventh steep.
Though it faded a bit too quickly for my liking, the profusion of berries made this tea very enjoyable. One caveat is that you do have to use a good amount of leaf, as 4-5 g isn’t enough for its jammy character to fully emerge. As someone who loves fruity oolongs, I’ll have no problem finishing the 10 g or so I have left.
Flavors: Berries, Blackberry, Cranberry, Cream, Floral, Grass, Jam, Pleasantly Sour, Raspberry, Tangy, Vanilla
I bought this tea about a year ago and it’s currently out of stock. This is close to my last session. I steeped 5 g of leaf in an 85 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The first steep has muted notes of cream, flowers, cornhusk, veggies, and grass. Even when I got it, the flavours weren’t too prominent. There’s no bitterness, and the tea is more vegetal than sweet. Hints of pineapple show up occasionally. The tea has good staying power, not getting too one-dimentionally vegetal until the seventh or eighth steep.
Although I wouldn’t classify this as a “really great oolong,” as I remember the website suggests, it’s a pretty decent one. I admit my expectations might have been too high, since this oolong is from the Li Shan region and these teas tend to be more complex. I’ve had better luck with this company’s darker oolongs.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Cream, Floral, Grass, Pineapple, Vegetal
Mini tuocha. No aroma on dry leaf, rinse, or brew. Initial brew has a soft texture, without any great flavor. There’s a Runtz like wax-sweetness. I’m only one cup deep, and I already have a strong body reaction. Elevated heart rate, and a mounting headache. Finish is a weird, citric acidity. Throat feel is rough, and somewhat painful.
Unfortunately, at the time of this tasting note it seems that this tea is out of stock and removed from their shop.
Going with ~5g, 100ml, at 200F. Started with a quick 5s wash
Smells strongly of dark chocolate mixed with a mineral, rocky scent and raisins. This definitely smells like a nicely flavoured wuyi rock oolong tea.
Steep times were as follows: 5s, 7s, 10s, 12s, 20s, 25s, 35s
First thing I noticed when tasting the tea is that the taste is identical, literally identical, to the smell. Dark chocolate and raisins with an underlying mineral background.
Around my third steep, the dark chocolate taste remains more prominent with a ‘roasted mineral’ taste coming in. I do want to note that this tea isn’t sweet at all so far, it’s a little bitter but not overly so, just a ‘flavour bitterness’ if you will.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Mineral, Raisins, Roasted
Starting this one off with ~5g, 180F at 100ml with a 5s quick wash.
I’m fairly certain this is a type of milk oolong, as it looks just like other milk oolongs I’ve had in the past as well as having the distinct ‘creamyness’ that’s associated with milk oolong.
Steep times are as follows: 5s, 5s, 8s, 12s, 15s, 20s, 40s, 1m
For first impressions, this is a milk oolong tea that focuses less on the creamyness from milk oolong, and more on the floral flavours that the tea contains. Probably the most ‘floral’ tasting tea I’ve tasted to date with a rather persistent after taste.
When slightly oversteeped, it doesn’t get that nasty flavor of ‘petals’ that most floral teas taste, instead starts to adopt the heavy vegetal taste that other milk oolongs have.
This tea mainly has a very strong, but not piercing, floral flavour that rides over a smooth, creamy undertone. It’s a pleasant tea to relax with, regretfully it’s out of stock at the time of this posting, but a pleasant tea nonetheless.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Vegetal
I was given this tea as a gift, and decided to give it a try. Honestly, this is one of the gorssest teas that I’ve encountered over the past year and a half. The leaves we’re a mess and there was a lot of dirt. It tasted like farm, bird poop, and leather. After 6 steeps of this tea, I had to throw it out.
You can read my full review here…
Flavors: Astringent, Barnyard, Bitter, Dirt, Leather, Licorice, Mud, Tobacco
Sample from Matu
Well, I felt daring today. I was pretty ill yesterday, and still feeling the effects from whatever plague consumed my insides; however, I have been craving tea all the same. So, I decided prior to this session that there are several tea samples that could be excellent, or not.
While processing which tea was to be had, I had pondered whether this tea could improve, unimproved, or make my current state of being remain the same. And if it was going to make me feel more wretched than I have been/currently am, then I might as well go for it.
Now, I’ll be honest, I had zero expectations that this tea could be any good at all. I had given it two rinses before I became daring enough to drink any of the liquor. I noted that the wet leaf had slightly smoky, sweet, “meaty,” a bit of pine, and what could be floral notes. The first sip was a big mouthful of smoked-turkey with a touch of Dial soap. Weird, right? So weird that I had to drink another cup (also weird). And let me just say this much: I did that 3-4 times (alright, you’re outta your mind, ya weirdo) before coming to the conclusion that after steep No. 5 (7 if you count the two rinses) that it becomes an extremely astringent subpar Bulang-esq tea. So, with that said, I’m glad I was given the opportunity to try it, but for the price, it’s not worth it—of course it’s worth it if you’re longing to try a comically intriguing named pu-erh then I say, “Go for it—“ unless there’s a sale or a friend is kind enough to share their stash with you….then go for it.
Flavors: Ash, Astringent, Floral
I bought this tea when Chayo Tea had a sale a couple weeks back. I couldn’t pass it up – even though it’s almost certainly overpriced at $3/5.5g mini-tuo. The dry leaf smells heavily of barnyard – and all its associated scents: straw, hay, manure. After a rinse, the aroma was very strong – I got tobacco, floral, herbal, and true to the tasting notes on the tea’s site, a touch of “cat piss.” After smelling that, I got a little nervous about tasting this tea.
On the first two steeps, the tuo wasn’t really opened up all the way, so I was getting lighter steeps. There was still quite a bit going on – floral, honey, and pinesap notes with a barnyard finish. Not a lot of body to the tea at this point.
In the next three steeps, the tuo opened up all the way. I started to get a touch of tobacco flavor on the front of the sip, along with the same honey and pinesap notes – not particularly sweet – and the floral flavor was mostly gone. The tea also started to pick up a bit of astringency which sat in the corners of my mouth. It had a sticky mouthfeel, helped in part by that astringency. The finish did have a weird note to it that could be described as cat piss…I don’t know what’s more disturbing: that I got that flavor from a tea or that I didn’t hate it.
The astringency died down most of the way over the next couple steeps (except when I accidentally oversteeped it once), but i was still getting a sticky, sappy tea.
Around steep 10, the flavor started to die down some. The tea first got a little bit gentler and less funky, with a bit of a creamy mouthfeel. After that, the flavor dropped off a little bit more suddenly, and was most of the way gone by steep 12. The last couple steeps were mostly flavorless, reminding me that this is a mini-tuo with leaves as chopped up as is standard for this form of pressing. There was an odd and mostly unpleasant finish to those last couple steeps – almost platicky or rubbery.
There wasn’t a whole lot of info as to this tea’s origin or age on Chayo Tea’s website. I think it’s overpriced for what it is, at $35 for 12 mini-tuos before any sales or discounts. It’s really not particularly high quality material, being pretty chopped up and all that. I will say that I do not regret buying it though – it’s interesting and a rather uniquely flavored tea as far as my experience is concerned. Absolutely not something you would want as a daily drinker, but tasty enough and something that’s kind of fun to experience. I suspect I will keep some of my remaining 11 and toss the rest randomly into any upcoming tea swaps I make. I would guess this tea is maybe a few years old. Doesn’t have the astringency of a fresher tea – maybe 2010-2012. Not sure of course as its not listed. Also – don’t google “Cow Cunt Puerh” trust me. Again, this gets a decent rating not for how good it is, but for how interesting it is. The flavor was complex and a little bit tough to figure out.
Flavors: Astringent, Barnyard, Floral, Honey, Pine, Sap, Straw, Tobacco
Drank this tea during a Google Hangout; more of you get in Slack and join us :)
So… I pulled this out because I wanted an oolong right, but I really wasn’t ready for the complexity of this tea as I was expecting a tea that would die quickly with some fairly sharp note of light grass with sweetness and a floral punch like a tieguanyin normally is for me.
This tea opened up and brewed wonderful, middle level viscosity, sweet low roasted oolong goodness. I went to go buy some online while in the chat with the thought ‘yeah, I’ll shell out $10 this week for an ounce of this’ as I got to the 8th steep and it was still going. Well, turns out this is out of the price range I am looking for…
It’s one amazing tea that doesn’t die as quick as you think it would. I got over 12 steeps and each one had the nice medium hue and thickness to the liquid. Quite an enjoyable session, now I’m left with only 18 grams; but it’ll do :)
WHOA. This is so complex oh my god this is unique! I.. okay so okay uh
fruit, spices, chocolate, its super sweet and almost floral slightly? but also like peach and apples and uh theres cinnamon and chocolate and vanilla and strawberry, and it’s nutty and it’s dark but it’s very very sweet and that’s just the first steep,
It’s got a really delicious apple pie kind of a profile, oh my god this tea seriously I’m in love
later steeps are more like a berry kind of pie, it’s very pie like. almost jammy as well, think black/blueberry, seriously pick some of this up if you get the chance. Simply wonderful
As the flavour fades, it clears out into a nice cinnamon and floral, dark tea, which is also really really nice
EDIT: I think the last time I brewed this one, I didn’t continue the session long enough, because the flavour seems to last forever, I got over 3 Liters easily in my last session, which is phenomenal, anyways I just wanted to add that after the cinnamon and floral dark tea, there are fruity notes, basically it tastes like a nice grape black tea which is so good and it just stays like that for so long, I didn’t have the session end, because it was at my friend’s place, using her gaiwan, and I had to head home after hours of drinking it. Also the leaves are gorgeous! they’re so long and twisted, with absolutely no breakage in my whole package; some leaves are like 2 inches long easily, and they took most of my session to fully untwist, and even when they did I was still looking at them just in love this tea is such a treat.
Flavors: Apple, Berries, Blackberry, Blueberry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Jam, Nutty, Strawberry, Sweet, Vanilla