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Recent Tasting Notes
First of all, I love the sent of this tea which pops out at you the second you open the bag. A nice, strong, and green smell, not unlike freshly mowed grass. However, this grassy smell is tempered by a layers of sweetness and nuttiness, combining with the smell of perhaps a zucchini walnut muffin.
Visually, the dry leaves are impressive, with many very fine slender and curled strands tangled together within the bag. A nice deep green color interspersed with downy white buds. It is evident from the appearance that the tea is comprised of two leaves and a bud, as it is about 2/3 green leaves and 1/3 downy buds.
The steeped tea is a nice lighter golden yellow color (sparkling full of the tiny downy particles), giving off surprisingly little aroma compared to the smell from the bag. But flavor is very pleasant, giving off a greenish-nutty flavor with slight parsley astringency and tinges of bitterness which turns into a satisfying sweet nectar as the drink cools. The tea gives a nice faint but lingering nutty aftertaste and seems to coat the mouth somewhat. Not particularly floral or fruity as described by the vendor, but if there is any fruitiness it is more along the lines of a green under-ripe banana. Gives a solid second steep, and maybe even a third steep if you’ve got the time.
Been trying to decide if I REALLY like it or if I just kind-of like it for a while now. Sometimes I brew it and find the under-ripe fruit and rougher edges being accentuated for a not-so-great experience, and other times it is sweet as can be. Maybe has something to do with foods I am eating along with it, but for the most part I haven’t had much variation lately and my brewing parameters have been pretty consistent. At the price I think this is a pretty good deal, but I am fairly certain this is not nearly the best available biluochun (as the company’s grading system would imply).
I was super-excited to try this tea, as it comes from Anhui, where my beloved Keemun black teas originate. The dry, yellow-tinged green leaves are impressive, roughly of a uniform length around 1" in size and mostly straight. I can readily see that most of the pickings consist of one bud and one leaf. The hairy down on the leaves is there, but not nearly as prominent as I have seen on some other teas. Dry leaf gives off faint but very pleasing fragrance of hay, warm bread, and a hint of florals.
Brewed tea is very pale yellow-green in color, and has delicate but delightful flavors of toasted grains, pine nuts, and a floral taste not unlike the “orchid” found in many Keemun black teas. Also a touch of basic underlying sweetness. The “orchid” might just be in my imagination, because I have no idea if this tea shares any similarities in production to Keemun black tea, but at any rate there is definitely a pleasant floral quality there.
This tea is graded by Goarteastore.com as “Supreme,” which lies exactly in the middle of their grading system. Currently this is the highest-grade Huang Shan Mao Feng they sell on the website, but I would certainly be interested in trying higher grades. Despite being considered middle-of-the-road on the quality scale, this tea commands a fairly high price at $56.98 for 250 grams.
I am in love with the flavor and aroma of this tea, and I would score it even higher if only the flavors were a bit stronger and if there was a more lasting aftertaste – My favorite teas tend to linger on the palate for a while, and this one seems to fade away rather quickly.
Forgot to mention – This holds up pretty well for at least another steep or two. As I get older I am getting more sensitive to caffeine intake, so I am changing up my tea strategy. Buying mostly higher-graded teas than in the past (as theoretically better-quality teas would re-steep better) and re-steeping a time or two rather than having multiple first brews. Cuts the caffeine, gives me better quality tea, and keeps within my budget because I am using less tea.
Well, I spoke too soon. As is typical for me, I trashed another tea at first but now I’m coming around to liking it. After drinking this one some more, I’ve come to appreciate it a bit. Still don’t like it as much as Ten Ren’s 4th Grade Green King’s Tea, but this is a decent ginseng oolong. I still think it loses most of its charm after the first steep.
Was looking forward to a good ginseng oolong tea, but this is not it. Ten Ren’s 4th Grade Green King’s Oolong is much, much, better than this but also slightly more expensive. I will stick with Ten Ren. This one has very little body and very little character. Weak and boring tea.
In its favor, the ginseng seemed to be decent enough and added the familiar spicy and perhaps carrot-like flavor, but the oolong is very underwhelming. First steep is weak, and forget about steeping this a second or third time – not worth it.
I received a sample of this with my order. I’m not usually the biggest fan of jasmine teas, but this is a really good one at a decent price. The jasmine scent is strong, but it is very nicely balanced and not overpowering. Good for at least three steeps, too. The pearls are impressive in their neatness and I didn’t find any loose bits in my sample bag. Looks just like the picture, abundant white hairy buds included in the pearls.