Eco-Cha Artisan TeasEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Leafhopper, this one is making me drool. Most of the Shanlinxi blacks I’ve had lean more towards papaya, and while this certainly has it, the tea gong fu or western is extremely thick and sweet. Western so far consisted of 3 min that became 4 min, 3 minutes again, and 4-5 min again. Gong fu was 25, 35, 25, 45, 50, 70, 90, 3 min.I get more complex fruit and cocoa notes with some nice woody and hints of floral qualities gong fu, and a chocolate covered cherry flavor western. Sometimes I’d border to say maple syrup in some moments, and others chocolate syrup with a sweet aftertaste too. I can see someone write honey for the notes, but it’s undivorced from the chocolate sweetness, middling between milk and dark chocolate. There’s some really pleasant bitterness that occasionally sneaks up and textures the sweet flavor. I’m also getting the funnel cake quality that I’ve gotten in other Taiwanese blacks that’s a bit of an exaggeration.
Either way, it reminds me of Cocoa Amore in some ways in a more pure form. This is easily the kind of tea I could live with, and which is actually harder to find online for an affordable price. My only complaint is that it’s not long lasting. I’ve not been able to get it more than 6 steeps gong fu as it lost strength after steep 5, and it begins to really lose lustre after steep 3 western. I’d easily rate this 96, but the fading quality puts it at a 90 for me. Definitely my favorite black of the collection I got so far.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Caramelized Sugar, Cherry, Chocolate, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Papaya, Plum, Raisins, Sweet, Tropical Fruit, Wood
Finished this off yesterday-thank you Leafhopper! It would only last two-three solid steeps each session, 10, 20, 30, and then malty woodiness. The flavors were forward and had heavy honey, malt, some chocolate, dried papaya, a little bit of passion fruits, herbs, wood, nectarine hints, and of course, tea. It tasted like it was a ready boba with the brown sugar already in it, with a little bit of the Taiwanese fructose sweetness.
I liked this one quite a bit, and am glad I tried it.
Purchased as part of the Eco-Cha Tea Club sometime in 2016, this hongcha has spent too long in my tea museum. Its flavours are very soft and hard to coax out, and I have a feeling that’s due to age. I also laughed at the description of this as small leaf black tea, as the leaves of this tea are wiry and huge! I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 20, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 180 seconds.
The dry aroma is of rye bread, wood, honey, and cherries. The first steep has notes of rye bread, honey, malt, wood, minerals, and tannins, with aromas of cherry and raspberry that don’t make it into the cup. Mild raspberry appears in steeps two and three, and there’s a pronounced honey aftertaste. There could be some sugarcane in there too. The next couple steeps add raisins and spices. The tea fades into rye bread, wood, tannins, and minerals.
I wish I’d tried this tea when it wasn’t over six years old! It has some characteristics I associate with Taiwanese Assam (though I’m not sure this is actually an Assam tea), but I’ll be happy to see it leave my cupboard.
Flavors: Bread, Cherry, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Raisins, Raspberry, Rye, Spices, Sugarcane, Tannin, Wood
Better today and yesterday. I did short then long steeps and overwhelmed it a little. Today, I only did short steeps and the florals were more prominent. It was green, slightly grassy, and orchidy with some clear cardamom notes going on this time. Really cool tea. I’m not ready to rate it because it’s still so finicky. I’ve been so tempted to get Eco-Cha’s Yushan, but I have too many oolongs already.
Flavors: Cardamom, Floral, Green, Orchid, Smooth, Sugarcane
I thought I’ve added or written about this one before. Guess I’ll write about it now, which maybe again.
I got this one because it was the same growers and roasters as the Phoenix Village Dong Ding that was in the club. This is a spring 2020 or 2021 crop, it the box notes the florals and dry fruit more than anything else.
I get those, but this tea is extremely tricky. Either I under leaf or over leaf this bad boy. Given Eco-Cha recommends a whopping 9 grams for western, this tea really needs to be pushed to coax out the full flavor. Every session has been refined, but earlier teas would mostly give me vegetal impressions of fruit, florals, and honey. The honey notes were shy, and usually showed up later. Doing this tumbler style over does the tea, making it too vegetal, and too malty somehow, reminding me of those raw fruit based fruit rollups or That’s It! bars.
As I’ve kept the tea for a little bit, my dry leaves have breathed out. I get more florals and fruit, and less vegetal qualities lately. It’s not super forward, but it’s complex having shifting tones of mineral, macadamia, plumeria or lilac, maybe vanilla, and other florals under a swiss chard body. Western has been the better method so far because it draws out the flavors instead of forcing them out at once giving me more complex mugs that change flavors as it cools.
I’m not sure what to rate it, but maybe between the 80s and 90s. It’s got high marks for aroma, complexity, and individual notes, but it’s harder to brew than the Club’s counterpart of the same kind of tea. I like that it’s easy going and not astringent or super grassy, yet there are so many aspects that are easily missed or overwhelmed by other qualities. I do think this is a much higher quality tea in taste than I gave it credit for, yet it took me a while to get down to it. I still think I overspent when I got it. I am, however, thankful I got so much so I can play and experiment with it. I still recommend Eco-Cha, and especially recommend this for someone willing to do a professional tasting of it. I can easily see some one meditate with this tea, and drink it in one large cup, slurping in spoonfuls after a busy day.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Drying, Floral, Gardenias, Honey, Kale, Mango, Mineral, Nutty, Orchids, Spices
From the vaults of the tea museum, here’s a Wuyi hongcha from the beginning of the Eco-Cha Tea Club in the spring of 2016. I’ll call it “aged” instead of neglected. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of sweet potatoes, honey, raisins, earth, and medicinal herbs. The first steep has notes of raisins, plums, sweet potato, anise, earth, tannins, malt, sugarcane, wood, and spices, perhaps nutmeg. The plummy stonefruit is more prominent in the next steep, but so are the tannins and the astringency. The next couple steeps add cream and apricot, and I got a floral edge in one of my gongfu sessions. Fortunately, the medicinal character is gone, though there’s still sugarcane and faint anise in the aftertaste. The next few steeps have notes of spiced plum, raisins, squash, honey, cereal, tannins, earth, wood, grass, and minerals, with a nice honey/sugarcane aftertaste.
For such an old tea, this is complex and full of flavour. The honey and spices remind me of other Taiwanese black teas. I wonder if the strong raisins and stonefruit are due to aging, as they’re not noted in the few other reviews of this tea when it was younger. I’m sure Derk and Daylon will be able to add some nuances to this tasting note, as I’ve included it in their swap boxes!
Flavors: Anise, Apricot, Astringent, Cream, Earth, Floral, Grain, Grass, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Plum, Raisins, Spices, Squash, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Tannin, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Wood
I’ve had this sample for a while, and rediscovered it entombed in my White Lotus bag Whispering Pines sample as I was trying to find what happened to my other Zhao Zhou Jun Chiyabari black tea sample. Hysteric understates my mentality when trying to find my sample-because it was not where I thought I put it. So sifted through layers of my reused bags to see if I put it in a weird place, and I decided to finish off the whopping 7 grams I had of this at once in a full teapot using flash steeps.
I think this tea is underrated because it combines a higher oxidized tea with gardenia scenting. I wasn’t in love with it at first because it was cloying and bordering on tannic, but it’s grown on me as I’ve fallen in love with similarly profiled teas like Qilans. It is sweeter and ruddier, but I like it enough to at least have two cups of it. I get notes of incense in the dryleaf smell, and woody incense again in the taste, gardenia, brown sugar, and a little bit of tannin.
I still wouldn’t buy this, though I appreciate it now more than I have over two years ago.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Gardenias, Jasmine, Rose, Tannin
This is from SkySamurai, quite a while ago now. Thank you! This has always been a puzzler for me. Even the name of this “small leaf” seems like a joke because the leaves here are HUGE. The flavor is on the lighter side — hints of peach possibly, but then wafts away until it is mostly mineral and cotton tasting. Maybe sweet hay turning into dried black cherry. I’m sure this tea is very old by now. Somehow with these flavor notes I’m making it sound both better but also worse? hmm… I don’t think even fresh leafed that this tea would have been something I would gravitate towards. It’s too light for me.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for big mug // 21 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
I thought I reviewed this one…oh well.
I had this one two years ago, plowing through half of the 75 grams. I saved the other half which has been untouched for two years, and I re-discovered I had it when I inventoried some of my tea.
I delayed reviewing because I had initially mixed feelings on the tea. I fell in love with it the first time around since it has the sweet cocoa flavor I look for with enough citrus, caramel, or sugar sweetness to balance out the incredible dry cocoa/hot chocolate powder and yammy notes, not to mention an incredible aroma like fresh medium roasted coffee, but the remaining sessions tended to yield a more drying tea when I went with Eco-Cha’s 7 grams instructions. It had the same flavors, but it tasted like stale chocolate bars, sesame seeds, and raw sweet potato skins. There were times where the tea bordered on vegetal on the squashy end, other times more sweet. While this tea is far from bitter, it could be a little bit tannic like coffee, which was interesting to taste in a black tea. I finished the half of this tea fast, but was let down by the dryness until I fell in love with it on the last session of it 2019.
I decided to open back up, and it’s still as fresh as it was nearly two years ago. I am going to finish it quick before it dries out too much like the other half did. It retains all the notes as I brewed up between 4-5 grams gong fu, and I brewed it 35, 25, 35, 40, and 55 so far. I changed the water ratio a few times from 4-3.5-3.5-3.0-and finally 2.0 oz to savor the flavor. The experiment actually worked and yielded some nice flavor, adding a little bit of vanilla and cherry hints in the later steeps. I am going to go at it one last time, but I think I’ve spent the tea at it’s height.
Of the Tea Club’s blacks, this one was my favorite because it’s a complex flavor pleaser that I’d rate between an 87-92. I was also more satisfied with this black tea because the club went through a phase of doing nothing but Jin Xuans, Bug Bitten, or GABA oxidized teas that started to taste the same after a while. Some of them were too fruity even for me which is saying something-a lot of them tasted like pluot or papaya with an intense caffeine dose bordering on the effect of some purple teas….which can give me bad headaches. This tea was a lot more easy going and flavorful, and while my main criticisms are the dryness and lack of staying power, I’m relieved that I saved this tea.
Flavors: Butternut Squash, Caramel, Cherry, Chocolate, Citrus, Cocoa, Coffee, Drying, Oats, Peanut, Savory, Sugar, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tannin, Vanilla, Yams
Gong fu 1g tea to 15 g water, 20s wash, 50seconds + 15 each steep
Received as a sample from eco-cha’s subscription service (twice, actually, but not complaining)
Everything I love in high mountain oolong is here: nice balance of savory/sweet, smooth buttery mouthfeel, intense aroma. Highly recommend!
Two very nice gongfu sessions, one with shorter steeping times and one with longer, closer to Leafhopper’s parameters. I’m finishing off this swap tea brewed 2g in a 100mL teacup and think I prefer it this way!
There are 2 layers of aroma in the dry leaf. The first layer is perfumey florals while a closer whiff presents sweet cream and fleeting peach and pine. With a deeper smelling of the leaf in my hand, these notes all sit on top of the second layer: a molasses ginger cookie. Warmed and rinsed leaf are similar to each other with daffodil, gardenia, spinach, walnut.
Intense, heady and sweet indolic daffodil, gardenia and orange blossom florals well integrated into a clean and soft mineral water broth. Body has notes of dewy grass, crisp lettuce, mild spinach, walnut, cooling fir and the light acidity of sweet lemon mixed with sugarcane. Spices are revealed as clove, sweet cinnamon and a hints of allspice and nutmeg when brewed longer. Light butter on the swallow gives way cleanly to an aftertaste of peach skin, grass, candied orange rind and orange blossom with intense sugarcane returning sweetness. Spiciness and warmth is felt in the throat and chest. Bottom of the cup smells like sugarcane, tarragon and cherry blossom.
Leafhopper, this tea is from 2017? It’s incredible and balanced despite the intense florality. This tea reaffirms how an expert light roast can take a high mountain oolong to a stratospheric experience for me. Thank you <3
Flavors: Butter, Cherry Blossom, Cinnamon, Clove, Cookie, Cream, Fir, Floral, Gardenias, Ginger, Grass, Herbs, Lemon, Lettuce, Mineral, Molasses, Narcissus, Nutmeg, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Peach, Perfume, Pine, Spices, Spicy, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Walnut
Posting to see if Steepster is frozen again… Thank you SkySamurai – this was a while ago! Even though I just received her half of a swap yesterday! I keep trying this one. Even though it appears to be a green oolong in person (unlike the photo that is clearly roasted), I’m only really tasting the roast on this one… even though by appearance… there really shouldn’t be any roast flavor here at all. My brew color certainly isn’t deep amber like the photo! My brew color is the usual pale yellow. I loved the fragrance of the leaves after the rinse though – it was like tamarind (from my remembrance of the Butiki blend anyway). I wish the actual oolong had tasted like that. But sadly only roasted flavor here. It should be fine – I’m only steeping one teaspoon and not overdoing it. Bigger bundles here! Charcoal tasting oolongs just aren’t for me. It’s always a shame it’s so one-noted for me.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for full mug // 26 minutes after boiling // rinse // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 20 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // 2 minutes after boiling // 2 min
I received this back in 2017 when I was an Eco-Cha Tea Club member. Thank goodness it has some roast on it and can presumably survive a few years in storage! I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
Dry, these tightly rolled nuggets smell like a floral gingersnap. The first steep has notes of sweet pea, orchid, cookie, butter, nutmeg, grass, and light roast, with a floral and grassy aftertaste. The second steep adds nuts (maybe pecans?) and even more florals, though also, sadly, more of that grassy taste. Cookie, honey, mild spices, honeysuckle and sweet pea florals, nuts, and grass persist into the next couple steeps. I find the tea to be smooth and a little viscous. In the fifth steep, herbs and spinach peek through the cookie goodness. The session ends predictably with walnuts, butter, roast, spinach, and grass.
This is a pleasant, though perhaps not extraordinary oolong with some tasty spice cookie notes. (I’m getting those a lot with lightly roasted oolongs lately.) I’ll have no trouble finishing my 75 g package, though I won’t miss it terribly when it’s gone.
Flavors: Butter, Cookie, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Nutmeg, Nuts, Orchid, Pecan, Roasted, Spices, Spinach, Vegetal, Walnut
I ordered this tea in March of 2016, which means that it’s probably—gasp!—from 2015! Yes, I’m a bit embarrassed by this. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is typical Red Jade: menthol, cinnamon, raisins, malt, and stonefruit. The first steep has notes of sassafras, menthol, malt, cinnamon, cream, raisins, tannin, and wood. The next steep has more malt and menthol and not much fruit. There’s some astringency in the background and a drying aftertaste. Aside from a bit of raisin, the third and fourth steeps continue to be all about the malt, menthol, tannin, and sassafras. Later steeps emphasize malt, tannin, earth, wood, and minerals.
This tea has all the standard Red Jade flavours, though it’s on the maltier, more astringent side. I won’t have any trouble finishing the bag, but don’t need to buy more, as it isn’t anything new or spectacular.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Drying, Earth, Licorice, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Raisins, Stonefruit, Tannin, Wood
I’m surprised I’ve never reviewed this tea before. It was the tea that initially attracted me to the Eco-Cha Tea Club, which I still regret leaving. It was made in the winter of 2015 and I’m down to my last couple sessions. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of charcoal, roast, honey, grains, and flowers. The first steep has notes of honey, roast, smoke, autumn leaf pile, wood, and grains, and is not as sweet as many bug-bitten oolongs. The second steep is woody, roasty, and drying in the mouth, with the honey mostly in the background. The third and fourth steeps develop a sharper woody and sappy character, although with a lovely honey and floral aftertaste. The honey, grain, wood, sap, roast, and autumn leaves persist through the next few steeps. As expected, the finish is woody and roasty.
When I first had this tea, I was blown away, but either the roast has grown more prominent with age or I’ve become used to drinking sweeter bug-bitten oolongs. Still, as perhaps the second bug-bitten oolong I ever drank, it holds a special place in my heart.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Char, Drying, Floral, Grain, Honey, Roasted, Sap, Smoke, Wood
Thanks very much, SkySamurai! This was shipped here well before the teabox. I’m still working on the pre-teabox package! I steeped this a couple days ago but bungled purely everything in every steep so HAD to try it again. Now it’s much better. I even forgot the rinse last time and I saw tiny particles in the rinse, which seems odd for this type of oolong. I love a good Baozhong. The dry leaves have a great sweet creamy scent which is also what it tastes like! Though the brew is still VERY yellow in color which I guess is why I thought I had bungled it in the first place, but I guess this is the color it should be! The flavors are tough to piece together, they seem very one note, which is surprising to me for a Wenshan Baozhong. Mellow, sweet, minerals, creamy. And very very consistent but not as complex as I’d wish for a Baozhong.
Steep #1 // 1 heaping teaspoon for full mug // rinse // 28 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 16 minutes after boiling // 1 1/2 min
Steep #3 // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 min
I have to say roasted oolongs are fantastic on rainy days.
- Dry, the tea smells to me of dark chocolate with fruit?
- First cup (okay, really more of a rinse) has a really light texture and dark, toasty flavor. It’s an interesting contrast.
- A couple cups in, the tea still feels really light and creamy but is pretty smoky and woodsy. I’m not a big fan of smoke + tea, but this is fairly mild. Tiny campfire in the woods, not a giant bonfire. Underneath the roast there’s a little sweetness I can’t quite place. Is it toffee? Is it apricot? I’ll have to think about it a bit more.
- The longer I drink it the more the smokiness mellows. The last cups I drank felt a bit more nutty and desert-like than at the start. Reminds me a lot of the Dong Ding Cui Yu oolong from a couple months ago, only more roasted.
It’s really a nice warm tea when it’s gloomy out. And could certainly last for several more cups.
Flavors: Apricot, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Smoke, Toffee, Wood
I was excited to see this one because I really liked the honey oolong Eco-Cha sent previously. Here, the honey is less strong, and balanced out by florals, which gives it a little more complexity, if making the overall effect a lot softer and less attention-grabbing. Will write more on this one next time I sit down to enjoy it, but note to self that I did, in fact, try this one.
Flavors: Flowers, Honey
I just found the first blueberries of the season at the market the other day, and to celebrate the beginning of my favorite season of produce, I went for this tea to go with my breakfast for its berry-like flavor…
I’ve made it before and found it to be fairly tart and fruity (definitely berries, probably raspberry), but not unpleasantly so. I’m not a huge fan of the tartness that can go with fruit flavor in tea, so this wasn’t initially one of my favorites. Experimented a little with leaf/water ratio and times in my little gaiwan and was a lot happier with it today! First couple steeps were nice and light, sort of sweet and spicy (or herbal? something warm to tone down the berry, but it keeps shifting on me) with a little bit of a floral aroma. Later cups had a lot more tart/berry, but still retained the other interesting qualities. It’s nice, kind of like a trip to the farmer’s market in summer or a fresh pie. I guess this tea’s growing on me.
Flavors: Floral, Herbs, Raspberry, Spices, Sweet, Tart