Floating Leaves Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

88

This was Oolong C in a blind tasting set of high-mountain teas, and I correctly guessed it was Alishan because it was so darn floral. I got distracted during my first reviewing session and had to drink it again, which explains why this note is a bit later than the others. (Also, “having” to drink this tea again was by no means a hardship!) I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at boiling for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry and wet leaves smell like lilacs, orange blossoms, and other flowers. The first steep has notes of spring flowers, maybe orange blossom, lilac, and honeysuckle, plus pear, honey, cream, and grass. The next steep is more herbaceous and citrusy. This oolong is less overwhelmingly fruity and sweet than the lovely SLX, but it’s still tasty.

Steeps three and four have heavier orange blossom and other floral and herbaceous notes, and a nice, silky texture. The fruit is gone by steep five, and the tea becomes increasingly grassy as it nears the end of its life. This Alishan doesn’t have the staying power of the other two oolongs, but neither does it become an astringent, grassy mess.

This was a very good tea that seemed to be more typical of its terroir than the other oolongs in the set. It’s definitely nothing to sneeze at, especially for floral oolong lovers, but it wasn’t as memorable for me as the He Huan Shan or Shan Lin Xi. Still, I will have no problem finishing my remaining 20 grams.

Flavors: Citrus, Cream, Floral, Grass, Heavy, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Orange Blossom, Pear, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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97

This was Oolong B in a blind tasting set of three high-mountain teas. I steeped 6 g in a 120 ml teapot at boiling for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

In the warmed teapot, the leaves smell like honey and spring flowers. The first steep has notes of apple, lilac, honeysuckle, sweet pea, dulce de leche, butter, and (sigh) ethereal mountain air. The aftertaste is mineral and floral. I’m huffing the floral/sweet aroma left behind in the cup. The second steep is apricot/nectarine, heavy florals, and balsam. The tea is fuzzy and thick with a grassy and herbaceous aftertaste.

Steep three has complex fruity notes, maybe apricot and honeydew melon, plus buttery sweetness, florals, and balsam. If “unctuous” weren’t such an off-putting word, that’s what this tea would be. The aftertaste has a distinct hint of grass clippings, but you can tell it’s expensive grass. The fourth is a greener version of the third with a few more floral notes. The next couple steeps go back to apricot/peach with a thinner body and a mineral, grassy edge. The tea fades gradually to minerals and veggies, but the florals hang on faintly until the end of the session.

Wow! This was the best oolong I’ve had this year, hands down. I was positive it was the He Huan Shan, but nope. If you like over-the-top fruity oolongs with nice longevity, you’ll probably enjoy this. It convinces me once again that Shan Lin Xi provides the best quality-to-price ratio for high-mountain oolongs.

Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Butter, Creamy, Custard, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Peach, Resin, Stonefruits, Thick, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
derk

whyyyy

Leafhopper

LOL. Sorry. If you’re in the U.S., the shipping is more reasonable—not that I’m tempting you to buy more tea. :)

ashmanra

Added to wishlist!

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92

Welp, I fell off the no-tea-buying wagon. On Reddit, which I really shouldn’t visit if I don’t want to buy tea, I learned that Floating Leaves was having a blind tasting of three of their spring high mountain oolongs, Alishan, Shan Lin Xi, and He Huan Shan. I had some high mountain oolongs from this company in 2016 and was incredibly pleased with them, but the $15 shipping to Canada made me reluctant to order from them again. Still, they were offering 16 g each of three pricy oolongs for $10, and would be revealing which was which in a couple weeks. My inner tea addict reminded me that an ounce of each of these things would normally cost $33, so of course, I bought two sets for $35!

It was actually well worth it, as all three oolongs were amazing. I have waited to post my reviews until after the big reveal.

I steeped 6 g of this mystery oolong, which was called Oolong A, in a 120 ml teapot at boiling for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is an intoxicating blend of orange blossoms and other flowers. The first steep has notes of orange blossoms, orchids, violets, cream corn, butter, and grass. The corn becomes more apparent in the second steep, and there are hints of citrus and herbs. By steep three, there’s a nice balance of flowers, citrus, corn, cream, cotton candy, balsam, and minerals. It’s hard to tell what’s going on because this tea is so complicated!

The next three steeps remain sweet and floral, with a honeydew-like fruitiness replacing the citrus. The flavours become more subtle as the session progresses, but even the final steeps are enjoyable.

My guess for this tea was Shan Lin Xi because of its smoothness and strong corn and balsam notes. This was an unusual and understatedly elegant oolong that is definitely high quality. I don’t regret my impulse purchase at all!

Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Corn Husk, Cotton Candy, Creamy, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honeydew, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Resin, Smooth, Violet

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
derk

omg, don’t tease me!

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75

2016 Spring, sipdown.
205F, 2min
green, creamy, floral
Kind of typical green oolong

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Green

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83

Backlog
200F 2min 12 oz
floral, thick, lilac

It was good.

Flavors: Floral, Thick

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81

I had this catalogued incorrectly. Because it said black, I’m like oh yeah black tea, but it’s actually referring to the roasting of this tea.
The roast was done well and had settled into a nice roasted plum flavor. All the roasted teas I’ve had from Floating Leaves have been well done. I had this western: 200F for 2min.

Flavors: Plums, Roasted

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec 12 OZ / 354 ML
Cameron B.

Not sure if this is the same, but there’s already a listing:

https://steepster.com/teas/floating-leaves-tea/77202-alishan-black-tea

And it is listed under black/red teas on their website.

Cameron B.

I have a similar tea from Taiwan Tea Crafts, and I believe they describe it as a sort of red/oolong hybrid tea. So really, it’s both! :P

hawkband1

Probably the same tea. I really hate adding unnecessary teas to the database. Why don’t they come up during search??? argh! I have it listed twice in my spreadsheet as well, which mean I have two different packages of this. Thanks!

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83

Sipdown – present

Gave the last of this to my brother for Christmas. I hope he enjoys it as much as I did.

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85

It has a nice fragrance and taste. It has a bitter chocolaty taste but it was also a little sweet. It’s tea I wouldn’t mind having often. I think it’s a good tea for people who don’t usually drink tea to try, because of the chocolate flavor. It might appeal more to coffee drinkers than green tea would.

Flavors: Chocolate

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I was really looking forward to this one, after having enjoyed FLT’s Lishan Tie Guanin more than I have enjoyed much of any tgy previously. I was a little disappointed, unfortunately. It was certainly enjoyable, but that metallic tgy taste was quite prominent. I find it rather distracting in teas, as it is not a taste/sensation I appreciate, personally. The description of this tea specifically states that it has the “classic metallic mouthfeel that TGY drinkers love,” which leads me to believe I may have been correct in classifying myself as a non-TGY drinker.

That said, it wasn’t too overpowering, and it was accompanied by some nice ripe fruity notes and a bit of caramel roastiness. I would not personally go for it again.

Mine was the 2018 version of this tea.

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89

This was the only remaining tea in my July backlog. I drank it alongside the Spring 2017 Farmer’s Choice Baozhong from Floating Leaves Tea, apparently finishing it a day or two after I finished its non-competition counterpart. Perhaps not surprisingly, I thought this tea was very good though slightly less enjoyable than the farmer’s choice offering.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. My brewing method mirrored the one used for the other tea. I quickly rinsed 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water and then started with a 5 second steep. I then conducted steeps of 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes before finishing with a 5 minute steep. The temperature of the brewing water was kept at 195 F throughout the session. I generally only change water temperatures when brewing certain green teas, when I am experimenting with new preparations, or when I feel the session absolutely calls for it.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of butter, custard, vanilla, gardenia, honeysuckle, and lilac. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of cream, violet, baked bread, and tangerine. The first infusion then introduced a gentle sweet pea scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, vanilla, gardenia, honeysuckle, violet, and lilac before hints of green apple, pear, and apricot appeared on the swallow. The following infusions saw subtle cinnamon, umami, grass, and spinach aromas emerge. Notes of sweet pea, tangerine, custard, and baked bread belatedly appeared in the mouth along with stronger green apple, pear, and apricot notes and new flavors of cinnamon, umami, lettuce, and grass. The final few infusions introduced very soft mineral impressions while retaining somewhat pronounced green apple and butter notes. Hints of umami, grass, and lettuce could still be identified in the background with fleeting, ghostly sweet pea and violet impressions as well.

This was yet another quality baozhong from Floating Leaves Tea, though it was not quite as enjoyable to drink as its counterpart. Both teas displayed a number of similarities, but there were also some very pronounced differences between the two. This tea was more vegetal and more pungently fruity while also being softer and less mineral-heavy in the mouth. The overall mouthfeel of this tea was neither as quirky nor as lively, and the body was comparatively lighter too. While I greatly admired this tea’s restraint and sophistication, I preferred the more engaging nature of its less expensive counterpart.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Mineral, Pear, Spinach, Umami, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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92

This is a tea that has been trapped in my steadily shrinking backlog for far too long. I finished a one ounce pouch of it back around either the middle or end of July, but quite honestly, I totally forgot about it until going through my review notebook. I am a huge fan of baozhong in general, and I tend to love the ones offered by Seattle’s Floating Leaves Tea. This one was yet another winner.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 7 seconds. This infusion was followed by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of baked bread, sugarcane, lilac, gardenia, and vanilla. After the rinse, I found new aromas of pineapple, tangerine, and violet. The first infusion introduced an even stronger violet aroma as well as subtle scents of apple and sweet pea. In the mouth, the tea liquor initially presented notes of lilac, violet, and sweet pea underscored by hints of gardenia before revealing impressions of tangerine, apple, pineapple, and vanilla. Baked bread, butter, cream, and subtle sugarcane notes then appeared on the swallow. The following infusions introduced scents of rose, pear, cream, butter, and custard. Stronger and more immediate baked bread, cream, and butter notes appeared in the mouth while custard, pear, honeydew, rose, lime, umami, mineral, spinach, and lettuce impressions also made themselves known. The final few infusions offered lingering mineral, apple, vanilla, and butter notes that were backed by umami, citrus, lettuce, spinach, and vague floral hints.

Like the majority of the other baozhongs I have tried from Floating Leaves Tea, this one was complex and gorgeously layered with a very appealing and smooth texture in the mouth. As these teas go, it was a knockout and further proof that the more expensive and widely revered competition grade teas do not always offer the best or most consistent drinking experiences. This tea was a winner.

Flavors: Apple, Baked Bread, Butter, Citrus, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Honeydew, Lettuce, Lime, Mineral, Pear, Pineapple, Rose, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Nice tea with a medium roast on it. I’m usually not a fan of TGY (especially green ones, but sometimes have trouble with roasty ones as well), but I ordered a few nice sounding ones from FLT. The metallic taste common in TGY is always where they lose me. Until rather recently, I thought that was the result of a fault somewhere in the processing of the tea, but in talking to teafriends, I have learned this is an intentional, often sought-after flavor in TGY. It was enlightening and helped lead me back to giving TGY another try with a more open mind. Based on this tea, I’m sure glad I did.

The dry leaf had a buttery and salty aroma with a bit of that metallic/sour character. Also maybe some fruit, like lychee. After a rinse, the leaf smelled richly fruity, with notes of raisin and honey, and a light sourness. The roasted aroma was surprisingly subdued.

The flavor started off rather light, with fruitiness and a savory brothiness. The finish reminded me of sweet melon. There was some bit of sourness to it, but not the sharpness in the corners of my mouth that I have experienced from some TGY. The mouthfeel was pretty thick, and could also be described as brothy. This tea’s flavors deepened as the session went on – fewer of the high notes. The melon-y finish yielded to more of a sticky, dark fruitiness. The sour note remained throughout the session, but I found it pleasant rather than overpowering.

I am curious whether my palate has changed from the previous time I tried TGY, or if this tea is simply a much better example of the style, and this lighter sour/metallic note is what my teafriends praised. I have a few more TGY from Floating Leaves to try, so hopefully those will help me find the answer.

Flavors: Broth, Fruity, Honey, Melon, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 100 OZ / 2957 ML
Togo

I have also had troubles appreciating TGY (and still do), I wonder if the reasons are similar. I haven’t tried too many though, so I will check out a few more. It’s possible that as I learn more about them, I will be able to appreciate them more, or just find the right one for me. Recently, the one I got from Tao Tea Leaf showed me that it should be possible, I quite like that one.

Daylon R Thomas

I’d love to get myself some if it weren’t so expensive. I was not a huge fan of the Muzha that I’ve had, but a Lishan terroir with a Tie Guan Yin sounds like a lovely combo. Taiwan Sourcing had one that was greener, but again, just as high in price and now no longer available.

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70

This was the last of the spring 2017 Taiwanese rolled oolongs that I tried. I finished a pouch of this tea back around the middle of June, and I have to say that, of the few spring 2017 high mountain oolongs I have tried to this point, this was one of the least likable. I am normally a huge fan of Dayuling oolongs, but this one was rather odd and came off as being somewhat rough around the edges.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the rolled tea leaves emitted aromas of cream, butter, vanilla, sugarcane, and baked bread. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of custard, cinnamon, and sweet corn. The first infusion then introduced a subtle umami scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, custard, umami, and sweet corn that were backed by subtle impressions of spinach and grass just prior to the swallow. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn somewhat more vegetal, but also more floral as I definitely picked up some scents of violet and hyacinth. In the mouth, notes of violet and hyacinth appeared alongside notes of green apple, minerals, parsley, lettuce, seaweed, apricot, and orange zest. The previously missing notes of baked bread, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugarcane also appeared while odd notes of fennel lurked around the edges. There were even some subtle hints of white grape that appeared on the swallow during these infusions. The final infusions emphasized lingering impressions of umami, butter, minerals, spinach, violet, cream, and sugarcane that were balanced by fleeting hints of pear, grass, lettuce, seaweed, and vanilla.

Though this tea displayed considerable depth and complexity, not all of its aroma and flavor components were well-integrated and harmonious. The odd touches of fennel and white grape, in particular, kept distracting me. I also have to state that the combination of pear and vanilla with grass, lettuce, and seaweed on the tail end of the final infusions was strange and off-putting. For me, this tea just did not come together the way I hoped it would. It was not terrible, but it also did not really compare to some of the other Dayuling oolongs I have tried.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Custard, Fennel, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Lettuce, Mineral, Orange Zest, Parsley, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Umami, Vanilla, Violet, White Grapes

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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89

This is yet another of the samples I finished back in May, probably sometime during the second half of the month. Many of the spring 2017 rolled oolongs that I tried did not impress me as much as those from years past, but I enjoyed this one quite a bit. It displayed a great deal of complexity both on the nose and in the mouth, and it also displayed admirable longevity for a high mountain oolong.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the rolled tea leaves produced aromas of cream, butter, vanilla, sugarcane, cinnamon, and gardenia. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of steamed milk and violet. The first infusion then brought out subtle umami and spinach hints. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented delicate notes of cream, butter, and steamed milk that were balanced by umami, grass, spinach, vanilla, and violet hints. Subsequent infusions saw the nose become more savory and vegetal. Some stronger sugarcane aromas were also present, and I even picked up some fruity scents here and there. Gardenia impressions and stronger umami notes came out in the mouth alongside new notes of minerals, golden apple, pear, osmanthus, apricot, custard, coriander, tangerine zest, and pineapple. There were some subtle touches of seaweed too. The final infusions retained a great deal of complexity, offering rather clear notes of minerals, cream, butter, sugarcane, and pear that were backed by subtler, more fleeting impressions of spinach, coriander, umami, seaweed, and apple.

Though I would have liked to see a little more citrusy character and some stronger vegetal tones overall, this was still a very respectable Lishan oolong. I was not expecting this tea to be as good as it was either because the 2017 high mountain oolongs were so hit or miss for me. Fans of creamier, fruitier, and more sugary oolongs probably would dig this one.

Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Butter, Cinnamon, Citrus, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Gardenias, Grass, Milk, Mineral, Osmanthus, Pear, Pineapple, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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81

Sipdown.

Finally polished off the last of my Floating Leaves winter oolong samples. Hard to believe it took nearly 6 months to get through them all. I used to really tear through my green oolongs but I’ve started to pace myself with tea now. Too much tea drinking affected my enjoyment of it and felt like a chore sometimes. Limiting my intake to 1-2 teas a day has helped me learn to take my time and savor tea. Another side benefit of less tea drinking is it’s gotten my tea spending under control.

I’m a little torn about how to rate this tea. I’ve had a couple of enjoyable sessions and a handful that were lackluster. When in prime form, this is easily a 90+ tea. Delightfully floral with honeysuckle and orange blossoms balanced against warm grass in the background and a nectary sweetness. Occasional hints of melon and creamed corn. However it peaks early and there’s a noticeable drop in flavor by the 5th steep. My later sessions with this tea were just okay. I don’t know whether it went stale or I didn’t steep it correctly, but taste was flat and kind of boring.

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Nectar, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 135 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I don’t know about you, but the 2016 and 2017 Shan Lin Xi’s were personally boring. It’s not that my 2017 teas were bad because What-Cha’s Li Shan and Golden Tea Leaf’s Dong Ding was frickin’ amazing, but the other Shan Lin XI’s that I’ve had from the likes of Teaful and What-Cha were one noted. It was like Green goodness, general florals, honeydew, pineapple, and OP! That’s it.

LuckyMe

Glad it wasn’t just me :-) I feel like the 2017 crop of green oolongs was lacking in general. There were a few nice ones here and there but a lot of them were just meh. Even my trusty TTC Shibi oolong failed to excite.

I haven’t rushed out to buy any 2018 harvests yet – the past couple of harvests haven’t exactly inspired confidence. And there’s the been there, done that factor. I’ve tried pretty much everything from the usual suspects (TTC, Eco-Cha, What-Cha, BTTC, etc) and want something new this time. Taiwan Sourcing is doing some interesting stuff this year with “run dry” and “light roast” processed green oolongs. I may just have to finally place an order with them

eastkyteaguy

I have tried very few of the 2017 Taiwanese oolongs because I have been finishing some of the 2016 teas I had left over, but so far, I have found the few rolled oolongs I have tried to be hit or miss. I had a Lishan that I really enjoyed and a Dayuling that was just decent and nothing more. The two baozhongs I tried, however, were excellent.

Daylon R Thomas

I’m doing Tillerman. Supposedly, the harvest this year is one of the best in the past few decades.

LuckyMe

Had to google Tillerman, never heard of this shop. Glad to have found another Taiwanese oolong store. Thanks for the recommendation.

Daylon R Thomas

I’m trying them out to see how it goes. Oolong Owl, Tea for Me Please, and Amanda have reviewed them pretty often and had good things to say about them. My personal recommendation so far is Golden Tea Leaf for their Ali Shan, Dong Ding, Gui Fei, and the unusual Iris Orchid Dan Cong that they have.

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61

Since my focus in recent months has been on posting reviews of teas I drank ages ago, I figured it was time to take a break and highlight something I drank a little more recently. This ended up being the last of the winter 2016 Floating Leaves oolongs I got around to trying. I finished a pouch of it at the end of last week, and while I did not find it to be stale or anything (I usually take my time getting around to roasted oolongs because I want the roast to settle), it did not strike me as being particularly vibrant or likable. Compared to the spring 2016 version of this tea, which I loved, this one was just kind of lacking in comparison.

Naturally, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of baked bread, vanilla, cream, and wood. After the rinse, I noted emerging aromas of honey, caramelized banana, bruised plantain, and orchid. The first infusion saw the orchid scent grow stronger. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered light notes of baked bread, vanilla, cream, wood, and orchid. Subsequent infusions saw the nose take on aromas of roasted cashew, chocolate, roasted almond, and mango. Flavors of caramelized banana, honey, and plantain emerged in the mouth while new impressions of roasted almond, butter, roasted cashew, nutmeg, mango, chocolate, steamed milk, brown sugar, apple, minerals, golden raisin, cinnamon, and toasted rice also emerged. The last infusions offered lingering mineral, nutmeg, vanilla, cream, and toasted rice notes balanced by subtler impressions of baked bread, steamed milk, cinnamon, and caramelized banana.

There was a lot going on in this tea, and while I loved the way the flavors and textures kept changing, nothing really came together in a way that was fully satisfying for me. There were some flavor components that oddly and noticeably clashed with one another, causing some of the tea’s most appealing characteristics to get lost in the mix on a number of infusions. This tea seemed like it was missing some aspect (a little vegetal character, perhaps?) that would have evened it out and provided some much needed balance. Roasted Dong Ding oolongs (even those with a very light roast) have a tendency to age gracefully in my experience, so maybe this tea had just hit an awkward phase when I decided to drink it. I’m not certain what was going on here, but I do know that this tea did not quite stand up to some of the other roasted 2016 Dong Dings I have tried very recently. In the end, I will not necessarily caution others to avoid this tea, but since it is out of stock and out of season, I won’t bother to recommend it either. There are much more appealing and immediately likable Dong Ding oolongs out there anyway.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, banana, Brown Sugar, Butter, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Fruity, Honey, Mango, Milk, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orchid, Raisins, Roasted nuts, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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93

Backlog.

This was a solid Li Shan with a typical fruity-floral profile but what stood out to me were the texture and mouthfeel. I started off brewing this in the 189-200 range and didn’t care for the results. It tasted like a flavored Jin Xuan, with milk and vanilla bean tones. Once I bumped up the temperature about 10 degrees, that’s when the tea really began to reveal it’s character.

The tea begins sugarcane sweet and buttery. Very full and luscious mouthfeel, gentle florals in the aftertaste. The flowery notes take center stage around the 3rd steep. I detected daffodils, hyacinth, and a hint of tropical fruit. Soft texture and long, sweet aftertaste leaving behind almost a tingling sensation in the mouth. The fruitiness intensifies as it continues to steep with a smooth body and a mouthfeel like thick nectar.

Although this was a good tea, it wasn’t compelling enough for me to want to repurchase. I’ve had so many excellent high mountain teas that it takes an extraordinary tea to appear on my radar these days.

Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Tropical

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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77

This was the third of the 2016 winter oolongs to be polished off over the past couple of weeks, and in all honesty, it was my least favorite. This particular tea was a jade Dong Ding oolong crafted exclusively from the Qing Xin cultivar. Those of you who research tea cultivars are probably well aware that Qing Xin (Green Heart) is very similar to Ruan Zhi (Soft Stem), a tea cultivar commonly used to produce rolled oolongs, and is used in the production of Bao Zhong oolongs. Presenting Qing Xin as a rolled oolong, however, is nothing new. In essence, this tea was produced from a widespread, well-known, and highly versatile oolong cultivar, one with which I happen to have a good bit of experience. While I expected to be impressed, I ended up slightly disappointed. This was a pleasant, approachable tea, but it was also somewhat plain and even a little flat.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was followed by 13 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cream, butter, vanilla, custard, and lemon. After the rinse, I found an emerging aroma of grass and a stronger custard scent. Oddly, the lemon seemed to disappear. The first infusion then saw the lemon aroma reappear alongside a new scent of spinach. In the mouth, I noted flavors of cream, butter, and custard backed by subtle impressions of grass, cinnamon, and lemon. The following infusions brought out the notes of spinach and vanilla in the mouth as well as slightly stronger grass, lemon, and cinnamon flavors. New impressions of minerals, sugarcane, tangerine, orchid, narcissus, kumquat, pear, and seaweed appeared. I also noted a slightly brothy umami note, and bizarrely enough, hints of daylily shoots. I only ever seem to pick up daylily shoot notes in Jin Xuan oolongs, so this impression was particularly out of place. I have no clue why I kept finding it. The longer final infusions were dominated by notes of minerals, cream, and butter balanced by subtle hints of citrus, grass, and daylily shoots, though on at least one or two of these infusions, very vague vanilla notes poked through on the finish.

Kind of an odd tea and most certainly something I would have to be in the mood for, I could not see myself wanting to come back to this one frequently. Even though most of the aromas and flavors I found were not out of place in this type of oolong, for some reason they never struck me as fully coming together in a compelling fashion, and that, coupled with the fact that the texture of the tea liquor was very static throughout, is what led to my earlier assertion that this was a boring, flat tea. The tea steadily evolved in the mouth and on the nose, but it never fully blossomed, never developed into something new and unique that pulled me in all the way. Again, it was pleasant, drinkable, and fairly well-constructed, but unfortunately, I never found it to be anything more than pleasant, drinkable, and fairly well-constructed.

Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cream, Custard, Grass, Lemon, Narcissus, Orchid, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

Alright, here is the third and final review of the day. I have some real world things to do and I can keep catching up over the weekend. This was another recent sipdown. I think I finished the last of what I had of this tea toward the middle of last week. Just as I tend to be kind of ambivalent toward Floating Leaves Tea’s Jin Xuan oolongs, I tend to love their Si Ji Chun oolongs. This one was certainly no exception. It was a tremendously aromatic, flavorful tea with wonderful texture in the mouth. Oh, and it only cost $4.50 per ounce.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted wonderful aromas of cream, vanilla, butter, gardenia, and honeysuckle. After the rinse, I noted the emergence of custard and sugarcane aromas. The nose did not seem to change at all on the first infusion. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, butter, custard, vanilla, gardenia, and honeysuckle backed by subtle hints of sugarcane and vague grassy notes that appeared on the swallow. Subsequent infusions brought out stronger impressions of grass and sugarcane as new notes of violet, honeydew, green apple, pear, minerals, spinach, and garden peas made themselves known. There were some subtle notes of coriander that lingered in the background as well. The later infusions saw the butter and mineral notes swell alongside a broth-like umami character which seemed to belatedly emerge (I failed to notice it earlier in the session.), quickly superceding scattered, lingering notes of violet, green apple, spinach, and sugarcane.

This was more than a pleasant, drinkable tea; it was a tea that consistently evolved in fascinating ways over the course of a session. That brothy, buttery, mineral-heavy fade was really something, while the floral and fruity notes it displayed earlier in the session were clear and framed wonderfully. This was a tea in which nothing was ever out of place. It was also a tea that was never boring, dull, or flat. I know I said it earlier, but Floating Leaves Tea does a great job of sourcing Si Ji Chun oolongs. This tea was more proof of that.

Flavors: Butter, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Garden Peas, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Pear, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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79

I am once again so far behind on reviews. It is going to take a bit of time to get caught up again. The sad part is that my inconsistent posting has had nothing to do with being busy-the issue has been that I have been too lazy to post anything here for the better part of the last week. It finally started eating at me earlier in the day, thus I’m now beginning to get some reviews posted. I actually finished a one ounce pouch of this tea over a week ago. I found it to be a rock solid, yet fairly standard Taiwanese Jin Xuan and also very typical of the Jin Xuans consistently offered by Floating Leaves Tea. In other words, I was not wowed by it. I am a huge, huge fan of Floating Leaves Tea, but their Jin Xuans have never quite done it for me. My experiences with them suggest that the folks at Floating Leaves Tea tend to prefer sourcing Jin Xuan oolongs that are more savory and vegetal, while I prefer those that are sweeter, fruitier, and more floral.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cream, vanilla, butter, violet, and orchid. After the rinse, I found an emerging aroma of custard. The first proper infusion then yielded a sugarcane scent. In the mouth, the liquor offered notes of cream, butter, and vanilla balanced by hints of violet, orchid, and sugarcane. I also noted a fleeting impression of spinach around the swallow. Subsequent infusions brought out notes of minerals, grass, seaweed, coriander, lettuce, pear, honeydew, and green apple to go along with stronger, more developed spinach notes and the odd hint of custard. The floral notes popped briefly on a few of these infusions, but quickly receded into the background before disappearing altogether. The later infusions mostly offered notes of minerals, grass, spinach, and seaweed with vague touches of cream and green apple here and there.

As Jin Xuan oolongs go, this one offered a nice range of flavors, but I found that it lost too many of its appealing savory, floral, and fruity qualities too soon. I was also a little nonplussed that it did not display any of its buttery qualities on the longer infusions. These days I tend to favor some of the green Jin Xuan oolongs coming out of the Southeast Asian countries over those produced in Taiwan due to the unique quirks they often display, so this tea was likely not going to impress me as much anyway. Still, one could do far worse trying other teas of this type.

Flavors: Butter, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Lettuce, Mineral, Orchid, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Very tasty! The dry leaf has an interesting smell, reminding me of fried doughnuts. The texture of this tea is definitely the highlight for me – super silky and buttery! Flavor is nice – floral with hints of bitterness and herbs but overall sweet. I’d assume that backing off temperature would reduce the hint of bitterness and would add sweetness but I liked it as it was. I chose to drink first as this because it was the cheapest of the high mountain oolongs I bought but I was not disappointed at all!

Flavors: Floral, Herbs

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Shiuwen reminded everyone on the last live stream that reviews help so I’m going to revisit a bunch of teas and post the reviews. I managed to catch the first baozhong livestream a month or so ago and it was so interesting I bought the box with 5 baozhongs before it ended and I hadn’t even had a light oolong I liked before this purchase!
Only two of them are regular items as far as I know and being competition style this one is floral, buttery (texture and to an extent taste as well), and has a hint of citrus which really makes the tea more enjoyable for me. This handles boiling water very well, which Shiuwen recommends, and I tend to always use boiling water so that works out well. It also holds up for plenty of infusions. All of the baozhongs are distinct but this one is as enjoyable as the competition winning ones.

Flavors: Citrus, Floral

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87

Those of who you read my reviews may know by now that Shan Lin Xi oolongs are often hit or miss with me. I either really love them or find them to be just pretty good at best. Normally, I look for a lot of floral and creamy notes underpinned by grassy, vegetal character in teas of this type and often tend to pass on teas that strike me as being mostly savory and/or vegetal. I say I often pass on teas like that because every now and then I find one that appeals to me. This tea ended up being one of those.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 13 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of butter, cream, vanilla, and sugarcane. I could just barely detect a hint of orchid too. After the rinse, I found a hint of custard and some vegetal character on the nose. The first proper infusion then brought out stronger vegetal scents and something of a brothy umami aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of butter, cream, sugarcane, and vanilla balanced by surprisingly well-defined vegetal notes of grass, coriander, and spinach. When I focused in, I could detect a little umami character and some hints of orchard fruit on the finish. Subsequent infusions brought out clearly defined notes of white peach, green apple, and pear, a stronger umami presence on the nose and in the mouth, and subtle, belatedly emerging custard and orchid flavors. New impressions of honeydew, minerals, parsley, cucumber, lettuce, and seaweed also emerged alongside distant, often barely detectable baked bread and garden pea notes. The later infusions mostly offered a smooth liquor with notes of minerals, cream, spinach, coriander, and butter chased by vague seaweed and umami impressions.

I’m used to Shan Lin Xi oolongs that are creamier, more citrusy, and more floral and often make attempts to avoid those that are more vegetal, but this tea surprisingly hit the spot for me. Maybe it was a case of the tea being perfect for this unseasonably warm and sunny day or maybe I just needed something that felt more substantial in the mouth. Heck, a bit of both could have been at play here. Though this type of tea would normally not be my thing, I found this particular tea to be very enjoyable. If you are a fan of some of the more savory, vegetal high mountain oolongs, I would not hesitate to recommend this tea to you.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Garden Peas, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Lettuce, Mineral, Orchid, Parsley, Peach, Pear, Seaweed, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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85

While I love high mountain teas, I am fairly ambivalent towards Da Yu Lings. In my experience, they tend to be good but are seldom worth the high price they command. This one came highly recommended by the vendor.

Out of the bag, the plump green leaves had a forest green aroma and some floral hints. There was also a bit of seaweed aroma, a not so good sign that the tea is beginning to lose freshnesss. The warmed gaiwan brought out osmanthus and orchid which changed to melon and tropical fruit after the rinse. The first infusion was thin and vegetal with a light floral sensation on the tongue in the finish. Second steep brought our more florals, but also the stale seaweed note. The third steep was the best one of all. A thick flower nectar with a prominent note of orange blossom and less of the seaweed. The fourth infusion was similarly floral but also brought some brothiness. The texture become softer and gives the tongue a gentle floral tingle as it goes down. In the next 5 steeps, the tea flattened out a bit as it settled into a pleasant floral/vegetal taste.

So much like past Da Yu Lings, this ended up being a good but unspectacular gao shan. Nice mouthfeel and texture, but lacking some depth. I would like to have seen some of the fruity aromas in the taste.

Flavors: Flowers, Forest Floor, Orange Blossom, Orchid

Preparation
0 min, 45 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 80 ML

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