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Recent Tasting Notes
A sipdown! (M: 8, Y: 16)
I am drinking this tea all day. A kudos to derk who sent it to me, and Leafhopper that is original and previous owner. 4 grams — 125 ml gaiwan, gongfu session.
Well, what to say. It contains lots of GABA and made me relaxed today. It wasn’t needed, but somehow appreciated. First steeps were very green, vegetal, pleasantly (maybe not that much) sour, green apple, sweet/sour sauce. Later yeasty notes appear, honey and bit of stonefruits, or white grapes.
Finished in the evening with long steep, which was very yeastyy, yet comfortable.
I am glad I have finished it; and well, it’s not much tea for flavour profile, but for GABA instead I guess. At least for me. Keeping rating on 78.
I’m glad this tea is getting sipped down! No one really seems to like it, including me. Unfortunately, I have two more 100 g packs . . .
Thank you derk and Leafhopper. Received from first one mentioned, with second name on the label.
Steep count 2, both brewed similar.
I guess it is my first GABA oolong? Not sure, but certainly I don’t recall having any before. Who cares? Not me.
Leaves are big and have amazing look even when dry. Steeped western, in big strainer, however even this one is too small maybe?
Nose is saying honey for me, lightly vegetal, baked apples and spices, probably cinnamon.
Taste is great, very smooth, very similar to aroma described above, with some fruity note in the end of sip. In the second steep I notice more of the spices, fruitiness and vegetal notes are a bit stronger too.
I read that GABA should have inhibitory function (I read it after drinking first steep) and I feel I have to agree. I have been pretty much tired after work (long, monotonous job today) and this calmed me down and moreover, I have enjoyed a nice oolong at home. That all counts.
Down to the last few teas from a big Leafhopper swap!
I cracked the seal on a 100g bag of this tea a few months ago. Only now am I getting around to a tasting note.
Bowl tea this morning, quickly becoming my preferred method!
This is a full single leaf with spare twigs in the mix. The large leaves are not balled so they are probably best prepared how I’m rolling this morning or western steeped in a basket infuser or a larger gaiwan. They will not fit in a tiny teapot with a small mouth, nor in a regular ball infuser.
The aroma is moderate, sweet and savory with baked butternut squash, golden raisins, baked apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and a little vanilla.
The taste of the tea is very similar, mostly as a result of the aroma. The only thing I can taste without breathing in the aroma is that Si Ji Chun (Four Seasons) cultivar-specific florality and some wood. I wonder if this is tea is made with that cultivar. The liquor is thick with pectin, buttery, sweet-tangy. When I sip and breath, I get an impression of a baked mixture of butternut squash, apples and rhubarb; thinned honey, overripe honeydew and wood. The finish is vaguely fruity and leaves an after-feeling of being pleasantly sour. In the aftertaste, I get mild fresh apple, grass, white grapes and apricot. My tongue is coated with a smooth, thin layer of oil. The flavor profile really speaks to me as an autumn afternooner.
I notice I don’t get the sweats from this tea like I have from pretty much all other GABA teas I’ve tried.
So, this tea is old, probably produced in 2015 or 2016. Luckily Leafhopper had the prudence to not break the seal :) This tea tastes just as fresh as any other GABA tea I’ve had. I’m impressed! Because I really enjoy GABA teas, the 100g bag will be an easy one to sip through. Thank you, Leafhopper!
Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Brown Sugar, Butter, Butternut Squash, Cinnamon, Flowers, Grass, Honey, Honeydew, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins, Rhubarb, Savory, Smooth, Sweet, Tangy, Thick, Vanilla, White Grapes, Wood
Almost reminds me of a genmaicha in a certain ricey sense. That dry leaf smell is incredible. Slightly mineral, roasty, toasty notes that show superb craftsmanship by the tea maker. Some of the notes make me think of taiyaki or hojicha. I could sit here and smell this all day. But I’d rather drink it. Very mineral initial aroma. 10-second steep si sweet, mineral. It’s so good. Making my mouth water as I’m drinking it. Color is light amber to slightly darker amber. Depending of course on how long it’s in the Yixing pot. The second steep is even more amazing. I let it go longer than I meant but it’s still so sweet. Mineral sweet. Clean feel on the palate.
Wow. This tea makes me feel like I’m drinking toasted marshmallows next to a warm fire pit in the middle of the woods. It’s slightly smoky and charred flavor is more pronounced than most roasted teas I’ve tasted likely due to the repeated roasting and storage it has gone through. Perfect tea for a cold rainy or snowy day.
From the Samurai TTB
The small pack said only Wu Yi Dark Oolong, so I’m not sure this is exactly the same tea. Each sip starts out roasty, rather nutty hay, and ends with a lovely floral note. There was a bit more sweetness to the first few steeps, and the subsequent steeps are more floral overall. What a yummy Oolong this is, I’d be interested in trying this grandpa style.
Yay! The Great Steepster Freeze of 2020 is finally over! I’m glad all my notes were actually saved and I don’t need to repost them.
I haven’t tried too many aged teas, so this is a learning experience. Thanks to Fong Mong for the sample. I didn’t know how to steep this tea, so I used my old parameters of all 7 g, 120 ml, 200F, and rounds of 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus a few long steeps.
The dry aroma is of old wood, char, and roast. The first steep has notes of oak, sandalwood, chicory, minerals, and roast. The roast and minerals get stronger in steep two, and a honey element emerges. The flavours keep getting more intense as the session continues, and there’s definitely a bit of decayed wood in there, too. Generally, this is a smooth, woody tea with a sophisticated profile. The smoke and roast are more noticeable in later rounds, but this tea doesn’t evolve too much over the session.
While it’s not something I’d typically drink, I enjoyed this aged oolong for its exotic woodiness and smoothness. As khboyd said in a review, it reminds me of a Wuyi oolong. I’m sure it would have been even better in the fall or winter. I can’t wait for this unusually hot summer to end, not least because drinking hot tea in this heat is kind of annoying.
Flavors: Char, Decayed Wood, Honey, Mineral, Oak, Roasted, Smoke, Smooth, Wood
Eh! Drinking hot tea in August IS annoying! I was desperate this morning so I was forced to drink a hot cuppa, which was not the torture I thought it would be.
We’ve had some days that were over 30C here in Ontario, but I tend not to cold brew because it requires more leaf and I don’t get as many resteeps. I guess I’d rather save money than have cold tea. I do, however, sometimes cold brew old teas I want to get rid of.
I generally will brew a big pot of hot tea at night as I am doing the dinner dishes, pour it into a jug and chill it overnight. That way I can get a few hot brews out of the leaves without having to cold brew-which I also think is a waste and does not taste as good as hot brew that’s chilled. It’s been consistently over 32.22C here (90s Fahrenheit) on the U.S. East coast with 98% humidity. We had tornadoes yesterday-and even they did not cool it off. I made sure to brew up tea after dinner so I can have a big, cold glass tomorrow at breakfast.
Yikes, that’s hot! I’ve also made hot tea and then put it in the fridge. I’m not sure if it makes more tea than cold steeping; I might have to do a comparison. I actually haven’t made a big Western pot of tea in quite a while. I usually do gongfu sessions or steep it in a mug using a Finum infuser.
I am a tea barbarian. That is one reason why I don’t review. When I first tried pu erh, I would put a chunk in 2 cups of water in a Pyrex measuring cup then put that in the microwave for 2 minutes. I brew Western 95% of the time. To me, tea just tastes like tea. I so love these lyrical tasting notes folks write and wish I could get all that from my tea. So I get it vicariously here instead.
A long-ago gift from Nichole/CuppaGeek. This was a single serving, maybe a teaspoon or just shy of a teaspoon. I used six ounces of water and steeped on the longer side of things to make up for it, but the flavor still came out tasting a bit weak. It’s obvious that this is an oolong by taste and aroma, but I’m not picking out any distinct notes/flavors. I’m positive this is due to my inexperience with oolong however, and not to the quality of the tea itself. Moving on.
Thanks to Fong Mong for the free sample, and sorry for taking so long to review it. Fushoushan is one of my favourite mountains, and I somehow wanted to find a way to get two sessions out of the leaves. However, this didn’t work out. I steeped the generous 7 g in a 120 ml teapot at 190F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of apricots, orchids, honey, and other flowers. The first steep has notes of apricot, orchid, lilac, honeysuckle, sweet pea, honey, cream, spinach, nutmeg, and grass. The second steep adds notes of brown sugar, herbs, and arugula, and the florals and stonefruit get stronger. The next couple steeps have a nice balance of stonefruit, herbaceous, sweet, spicy, and floral flavours, with hints of custard and caramel. The spinach and grass start taking over in steep five, although the floral, honey, and herbs are still prominent. The session ends with spinach, veggies, grass, and florals.
This is a nuanced and complex oolong that checks all the boxes for a good high mountain tea. The nutmeg and stonefruit are particularly pleasant. While the Shan Lin Xi and Li Shan are probably better bets in terms of the price, this Fushoushan is a nice treat.
Flavors: Apricot, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cream, Custard, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Nutmeg, Orchid, Spinach, Vegetal
I am glad to see this! I was thinking they had closed, but it was Nuvola that closed. I need to look at Fong Mong again.
So, it seems Fong Mong has become JLTea Co. I placed an order for a sampler set and received the package from Taiwan in less than a week! 24 samples and I basically just paid shipping, so I’m very excited to start trying everything.
Onto the tea- this is really interesting. Floral and a bit vegetal, but very sweet with a caramelized sugar note. A bit of a dry mouthfeel, which isn’t my favorite.
I compared with tea side by side with the original Ruby 18 Fong Mong Tea offers. I used a gaiwan method. As this is a black tea, I opted for fewer, longer steeps. I used 2g of leaves per 60ml of water. I used water just at a boil, with a first steep of 20 seconds, preparing both the original Ruby 18 and it’s GABA counterpart at the same time.
My first sip was of the original, and it was just as I remembered it, albeit a little more potent this time for tasting purposes. The original is complex: malty, rich, with camphor, menthol, cinnamon earthiness and slightly fruity. It is also astringent, a truly delightful experience.
Now what about this GABA variety? At first impression, it seemed very similar. Perhaps the flavours are a bit more potent in this one. I sipped again. My mouth began feeling that familiar drying sensation as I tried to tease out the nuances of this variety. It is a bit different. But it is still entirely a Ruby 18.
The note in Ruby 18 that always strikes me most is that strong camphor and menthol. The warming cinnamon is there too. I feel like this GABA one has more intensity to it and a bit more natural sweetness. It’s quite soothing and the mouthfeel again is rich and smooth, I think I find it a little more astringent than the original Ruby 18. There’s a minty freshness in here to complement the rest of the bouquet.
I feel like the most noticeable difference to me (someone who really enjoys tea, but not an expert) is that the GABA version seems more sweet and potent, and the aftertaste lingers a bit longer than the original Ruby 18. These are, of course, my personal opinion and a subjective observation. I thoroughly enjoy both.
Both of these teas are beautiful and of high quality. After a long suffocating steep, both were still very enjoyable and I could not tell you any distinct flaw in them. They are simply great teas. Overall I feel the GABA tea is a bit sweeter in a cinnamon and mint kind of way. Both teas retained a lot of flavour and strength even into this fourth steeping, and could have been pushed further. Due to the sweetness and enjoying the relaxing GABA effects, if I had to choose between the two, I’d choose the GABA version.
Flavors: Camphor, Caramel, Cinnamon, Malt, Menthol, Mint
I opened the pouch and took a whiff of the rolled leaves, finding the nutty, vegetal fragrance warm and inviting. It also reminds me of honey-coated puffed wheat somehow.I first rinsed the leaves with hot water. Then I used water at approximately 85C, with 45ml of water per 2g of leaf to begin this tasting. As the leaves opened up, I added a little more water in 15ml increments.
In the gaiwan I started with a 20 second infusion time, and added 5 seconds to the infusion time with each successive steep. The aroma was sweet, nutty, and inviting. At first sip, my impression was of almonds and sticky rice. The vegetal green notes are very present, with mild, complimentary roasting notes and the nutty sweetness. The liquor is an appealing sunny straw yellow. It reminds me of springtime, but also of autumn, and strikes me as a tea that would be lovely to enjoy any time of year. The flavours shifted subtly as I continued re-infusing. A sweet almondy aftertaste lingered in the back of my throat. Sometimes a little more ‘green’ would peek out, sometimes more almonds and honey, sometimes I tasted more minerals. I continued on for a good 10 infusions, truly enjoying each one. The final steep, I allowed to sit for a few solid minutes for a grand finale. This final burst of flavour also has a foggy undertone and has left me with a fond memory.
Flavors: Almond, Nutty, Rice, Roasted, Sweet
This tea is fascinating. An aged oolong, it was harvested in 2008, and was repeatedly roasted and stored. The aroma of the dry leaf is mostly of wood, charcoal, and minerals. I prepared this tea in a gaiwan, using approximately 2g of leaf for this tasting, and beginning with 30ml of water at around 90 degrees Celsius. I rinsed the leaves before infusing. I should note that a Yixing teapot is recommended for this type of tea, however, I don’t own one yet, so gaiwan it is.
For the first infusion, I let it sit for 20 seconds, and then added 10 seconds with each infusion. This oolong really reminds me of rock tea. I also notice the leaves don’t open quite as much as other oolong, but the flavour certainly does come out. The liquor s dark reddish brown, and it’s astringent, most noticed at the back of the mouth and throat. Flavour wise, this tea tastes robustly woody and smokey, a bit of charcoal and minerals with an interesting honey-like note in the aftertaste. The aftertaste is substantial and lingering.
I continued for 10 infusions, noticing that the flavours are quite consistent over time. The wood and smoke notes do mellow and by the final few infusions I tasted more minerals. This was an intriguing taste experience!
Flavors: Char, Mineral, Smoke, Wood
This time I tried the Jin Xuan, a special varietal that is grown in Alishan and also offers some milk oolong flavour. The dry leaf smells vegetal, sweet, and creamy milk with butter.
I prepared this using a porcelain gaiwan, using 2g of leaves and giving the leaves a rinse first. I used water at approximately 85 degrees Celsius. I began with a 10 second infusion time, adding 5 seconds per infusion for a pattern of 10, 15, 20, 25, etc. I personally found the liquor to have a more pale colour but rich savory and buttery aroma. The mouthfeel was creamy, somewhat thick, and a few infusions in I also found it delightfully squeaky.
The flavours are more umami to me, savory butter and reminding me of legumes, peas and edamame, but there is also a floral note and some sweetness in here too. It’s complex and quite amusing for the tastebuds. The first several steeps were always a burst of flavour. I carried on for 10 infusions, finding that even by the end the flavour was still quite consistent but mellowing. This is a delightful find!
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Umami, Vegetal
As usual, I brewed this with a gaiwan with shorter steeps the first tasting. The dry leaf is fragrant and to me it smells quite fresh and vegetal, with the fruit and floral aromas being more subtle here. That changed with brewing.
I used approximately 2g of leaf for the gaiwan, giving them a rinse before steeping. Using shorter steeps, I opted to begin with a 15 second infusion time for the first, then added 5 seconds with each following infusion for a pattern of 15, 20, 25, etc. I used 30ml of water to begin, adding to that amount in 15ml increments as the leaves opened up. The water I used was hot, but not boiling, approximately 85 degrees Celsius. The liquor first appeared a very pale sunny golden yellow and gained a little more colour as infusions progressed. The aroma was sweet and grassy, quintessentially green oolong.
I found the mouthfeel of this tea was quite smooth, a little bit squeaky, and had just a hint of astringency I found more at the back of my throat with the lingering green aftertaste. There is definitely fruity and floral flavours here, more so fruity. There’s sweetness but also an interesting tartness, sometimes reminding me of cherries, sometimes goji berries, even sometimes citrus – a little bit hard to put a definitive finger on, because the flavours are complex and shifting slightly from infusion to infusion. I’m loving this! With that fruitiness is floral notes with butter and legumes, a verdant grassy note. This tea definitely tastes spring-like. I carried on for 9 infusions this way, before wrapping up with a final long steep that brought out that familiar foggy mountain air note.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Vegetal