Old Ways Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

Backlog. The final tea of my 3-year spread of Old Ways Tea’s Old Tree Black teas.

This tea reminded me of an old leather couch in a study. Pipe tobacco and raisins, malt, florals, tangy. Interesting unexpected umami. Glorious silky texture later turning oily with mouth-watering minerality and a complementary light astringency that opened the door for a strong returning sweetness. Explosive yet contemplative energy, warming and cooling. Six great infusions.

Each year from 2016 to 2018 was markedly different, each with their own strengths.
2016 — complexity and strength of flavors, lingering aftertaste, longevity
2017 — roundedness and daily drinkability
2018 — strength of brew, structured body/mouthfeel and pleasing energy
All delicious. All aromatic and engaging.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Butter, Campfire, Cinnamon, Floral, Flowers, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange, Raisins, Rose, Tangy, Tobacco, Umami, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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In comparison to the 2016 harvest I had earlier this week, the 2017 is more of a high-end daily drinker as opposed to a real treat.  It manages to be both bold and light yet not so complex that it commands all my attention.  The flavor profile is exemplary of Old Ways Tea’s Wuyi black teas.  It is very similar to the 2016 though more rounded and less active in the mouth.  It smells and tastes a lot like a sunflower seed dark bread.  Quite sunflower-wildflower-rose floral, malty, leathery, fruity.  There seems to be less of an old-growth depth and the baking spice and cream notes are not as apparent, briefly experienced early on in the back of the mouth.  It evokes a feeling of a cool, damp meadow in full bloom, surrounded by berries, rather than an old-growth cedar forest. It’s still a wonderful tea and I’m sad to see it go.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Cream, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Leather, Lemon, Lychee, Malt, Nutmeg, Nutty, Orange, Rose, Tangy, Tobacco

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
tea-sipper

derk – I briefly saw a note late last night that you wrote, but you must have deleted it… I just noticed you were talking about pandemic times and it’s completely fine for you to leave these types of notes up! I mainly noticed you talking about ridiculous people wandering around your work mainly because they were bored, who shouldn’t be there. I can only imagine your frustration at this. People SHOULD be treating this like they already have it, symptoms or no, and think of every other person out in the world. I hope you stay safe.

ashmanra

What tea-sipper said, yep. I have cancelled all lessons for the next two weeks minimum even though we meet one and one. Because this ONE will have two more coming home from work who may have been exposed or may get it from a student, and my students have working parents or grandparents keeping them and who knows which of them may have caught it….in ever widening circles,

derk

This week was a little easier than the last and business finally seemed to be slowing down but I attribute that to the rain. Our customer capacity is currently limited to 30 at any given time, down from 50. A man in line outside the other day loudly gesticulated his frustration with other customers being there only out of boredom or for their non-essential home improvement projects, while he was there to purchase some plumbing to fix an old woman’s sink. As he was voicing his annoyance at having to wait behind all these people, 3 of the customers in front of him actually left. A little public shaming worked. We should hire the guy to stand in line and complain.

A wise decision, ashmanra.

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drank Jin Jun Mei (2017) by Old Ways Tea
591 tasting notes

This was a freebie provided by Old Ways Tea what seems like many lives ago.

Some jots:

Dry leaf — deep, dark old growth forest, orchids, spicy, WOW.
Warmed leaf — complex HOLY COW
Liquor color — clear cool brown w/ a green-grey-blue ring around the edge of the cup
Tastes — woody, leathery, malty, sweet, mineral, creamy, fruity, spicy, cooling, sweet potato, lemon, lychee, baked bread, brown sugar, herbs.
Progression — the low tones fade as sweet potato comes forward, then finally black pepper and citrus come to the forefront. Most pronounced black pepper note I’ve ever experienced in hongcha.

Got 6 good short steeps like most hong.

I had a very difficult time parsing this tea due to my mood and the tea’s complexity and low tonal nature.
May I point you in the direction of eastkyteaguy’s review?
https://steepster.com/eastkyteaguy/posts/384677#likes

Flavors: Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Citrus, Citrusy, Creamy, Forest Floor, Fruity, Herbs, Leather, Lemon, Lychee, Malt, Mineral, Orchid, Pine, Spicy, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Wet Rocks, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Bai Jiguan (2018) by Old Ways Tea
591 tasting notes

Caveat: I haven’t even been able to enjoy tea since I’ve been home from dogsitting and have in fact drank very little. This tea is just ok for me. It’s complex and strange as baijiguan is. Try a baijiguan rock oolong if you never have and want to throw your tastebuds for a little loop.

I debated editing out a portion of my life because it sounds whiney (frankly, I’m scared), but I have friends here so it stays, just moved below.

I tried some big girl panties on for size the past several weeks to push through exhaustion and anxiety. Even big girl panties rip when you’re dragging ass like my cat did across the rug the other day… And all the bits of myself I didn’t want people to see came out in full force last week. Hello, vulnerability. Yes, my cat looks at me with shame when she’s dragging ass, the same look my dog used to give while experiencing the joy of peristalsis over a very sad parcel of sandy soil in a sidewalk that once housed a tree on a steep block in San Francisco until somebody drunkenly parallel parked into the tree. That’s the look I was giving the world last week with my knitted brow. A combination of shame and “Protect me, I’m vulnerable right now”, which quickly morphed into the look of chronic pain — a defocused gaze and disinterested body language that many seem to take as a personal affront. The sweater I knitted wasn’t going over so well at work so I opted to take off the past few days.

What all that whining comes down to is I’ve had a hernia? for several months that I think may be putting pressure on a nerve in my leg which is causing my right hip to crumple beneath me along with that dull, throbbing pain that mutes any pleasurable moments one may have in the midst of SAD season. Makes doing my job difficult and I can’t work out at all. Due to changes in health insurance providers and a period without any insurance, I had put off going to the doctor until last week. I was scheduled for an immediate consultation with the surgeon, which is thankfully today.

Flavors: Camphor, Carrot, Citrusy, Coffee, Compost, Floral, Forest Floor, Freshly Cut Grass, Fruity, Gardenias, Graham Cracker, Mineral, Mushrooms, Osmanthus, Peach, Sugar, Sweet, Tangy, Yeasty

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
mrmopar

Oh Gosh! Hernia , not good news. if I had read this first you would have had a longer email. I sure hope and pray you can get through it. I had a repair that put me out 8 weeks from work. Now I try to be careful not to repeat getting one.

ashmanra

Oh no! I am so sorry to hear this! I don’t know if there is anything on there that can help you, but maybe check out StopChasingPain on insta and see if there is anything that might help with the hip/leg pain! I will definitely be praying for you and hope you get relief soon! I have to keep up with lots of physical therapy exercises and stretches to keep myself moving so I hope you find something that works for you!

Martin Bednář

Oh my…
It sounds like a big trouble and I have nothing to write about it. I have totally no adivce, because, I never had a hernia. It was moreover quite hard to go through the text, as, you used probably lots of idioms; or phrases hard to translate. But that’s joys of not being native speaker.

I just hope, that everything will be fine soon, doc will find some treatment that will work for you. I will pray for you as well. There is nothing much more I can do. But I still hope you will find again some days when you really can enjoy everything, including teas!

gmathis

Praying that some sunshine finds you today—inside and out!

tea-sipper

Not whining. wishing you luck and health, derk.

Shanie O Maniac

Ouch! I hope you are ok. I will send good vibes and lots of prayers your way! I have never had a hernia before (I think) so I really have no advice. But I can pray for you. Here’s hoping things improve shortly.

derk

Thank you all, to those here and those that responded in private message. I would like to respond to all individually soon <3

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52

I had around 6 grams from derk. Thank you!

Prepared grandpa, overleafed with all in my 85 ml gaiwan. Ehh, it wasn’t so clever.

I feel really weird somehow. I can’t really explain why, because I don’t know myself. Like some nostalgia coming up, or just being tense because my nieces and nephew are coming tomorrow for a week.

Anyway, prepared this tea of char aroma when dry. I have to say, it wasn’t too appealing for me, but I hoped it will disappear with rinse or first steeps. Please note, that this note was written while I already finished it and I was drinking it in family circle (is that valid in English?).

First steeps were really mineral and char like. Not even much of roastiness for me. Then it started to transform into stonefruits as well my headache started to grow. I don’t really blame tea for it, but unfortunately I think it took its part as well. After few steeps it became really fruity, but it is as well quickly over. Not my favourite oolong I guess. Thanks for chance to try it though, derk.

Flavors: Char, Fruity, Mineral, Stonefruits

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 85 ML
Martin Bednář

Oh boy, it was huge headache afterwards. I really wonder if it was tea-caused or it was just bit of everything.

derk

Sorry you had such a bad headache. I hope the tea didn’t contribute to it! Thanks for trying this, though. I wasn’t sure if I was crazy thinking this was a sub-par tea. Maybe it didn’t age so well.

Martin Bednář

Yeah, I think so. Maybe it turned out bit weird after 4 years.

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Backlog from early December. Barely took notes. It must’ve been a bad day. I don’t remember anything about this tea, unfortunately :/

Dry leaf had notes of caramel, marshmallow, vanilla, roasted nuts, milk chocolate, florals and peanut.

First infusion was sweet and roasty with florals and graham. No notes in between there and the seventh infusion where all I had to say was peach-osmanthus and butter finally coming out in aftertaste.

And there you have it folks.

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drank Jin Mu Dan by Old Ways Tea
591 tasting notes

Had a 2018 harvest of this tea. I’m pretty sure I received two packets as freebies in a few orders, so thank you, Old Ways Tea :)

The dry leaf was all intense Caramelized Peaches and Cream! Super clear expression. Warming and rinsing brought out the sweet roasty-toasty nature of the tea along with the tanginess and red aroma of raspberry, pomegranate and red apple, and dark chocolate and wood.

I had a rough day at work when I tasted this, so my notes kind of trailed off after the first infusion. I noted that it was light-bodied, mineral, still quite roasty with an astringency toeing the ‘too much’ line but it never really got out of control. Beyond the roast was a pure peach-fruit tree flower essence. Creamy impression on swallow followed by a peach-osmanthus-cream aftertaste.

My notes were sparse for the remainder of the session. Some things I wrote: late emerging bitterness, caramel sweetness, osmanthus aftertaste, bitterness gone. Toward the end I noted the growing thickness of the liquor and tongue tingles with the final infusions being nutty, sweet and grassy. Good longevity with short gongfu infusions.

I’ve had one other Jin Mu Dan, from Yunnan Sourcing — https://steepster.com/teas/yunnan-sourcing/85028-gold-mudan-jin-mu-dan-wu-yi-rock-oolong-tea-star-spring-2017
This was a completely different experience, and despite my mindstate, I fully appreciated what this tea had to offer. It was much livelier and I’m guessing Old Ways Tea’s Jin Mu Dan had a heavier roast than the one from Yunnan Sourcing which had left me not wanting to further explore the Jin Mu Dan cultivar. I’d go for this one again but it’s not a favorite yancha. The clear and vibrant peach/flower and osmanthus expressions were fantastic, though!

Flavors: Caramel, Cream, Creamy, Drying, Fruit Tree Flowers, Grass, Mineral, Nutty, Osmanthus, Peach, Roasted, Sweet, Toasty, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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90

This is one of my favorite teas of the Oldways yancha lineup. The first few infusions had a prominent berry note that I can only describe as raspberry. Through the session, it moved more towards a smooth, sweet creamy caramel.

Flavors: Caramel, Cream, Raspberry

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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80
drank Da Hong Pao (2015) by Old Ways Tea
10 tasting notes

This is a very smooth yancha with a nicely settled roast. Its aromas remind me of toasted coconut flakes.

Flavors: Coconut, Nuts, Sweet, Toasted, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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drank Qi Lan (2016) by Old Ways Tea
591 tasting notes

Dark, sweet aroma with orchid but no sweetness in taste. Instead the taste is rather thin and herbaceous, dirt-mineral with orchid and roasted almond. Still some lingering char/roast notes that fade away a few infusions in. Undercurrent of alkaline bitterness.
An indistinguishable fruity aftertaste presents early, something like strawberry-apricot-orange-pineapple mixed with cream. That transitions to a clearly defined sweet white peach. The liquor develops a thick viscosity when the tastes start fading into grass and orange zest.

This session left me wanting something different. The dry leaf shows that this is low oxidized and medium roasted which really isn’t my favorite presentation for Wuyi oolong. This Qilan had aftertaste in spades but seemed unbalanced overall. I’ll have to revisit this tea soon, if only to hasten its departure from my cupboard :P

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Char, Cream, Dirt, Grass, Herbaceous, Herbs, Mineral, Orange, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pineapple, Roasted, Strawberry

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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95

This was one of my sipdowns from July. I think I’ve only got three or four more teas from that month to post once I get this review up for the world to see. To this point, this is my favorite of the 2018 Old Ways Tea black teas I have tried. It was a very sweet, fruity black tea, and even though such teas are not often my favorites, I found this one to be exceptional.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of baked bread, cream, butter, strawberry, blueberry, and tangerine. After the rinse, new aromas of roasted almond, nectarine, and blackberry emerged. The first infusion brought out aromas of pear, plum, roasted peanut, and malt. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of roasted almond, malt, strawberry, nectarine, plum, roasted peanut, cream, and tangerine that were balanced by hints of blackberry, black cherry, blueberry, butter, peach, pear, and guava. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of orange zest, wood, straw, vanilla, and guava as well as a subtler scent of sweet potato. Slightly stronger and more immediate notes of blueberry, butter, guava, black cherry, pear, and peach appeared as did impressions of roasted peanut and baked bread. I detected new notes of minerals, orange zest, sweet potato, wood, and straw that were accompanied by hints of pineapple and vanilla. There was also an herbal, slightly cooling quality on each swallow that I could never manage to place. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, wood, malt, baked bread, and roasted almond notes that were balanced by peach, plum, pear, strawberry, orange zest, blackberry, tangerine, and black cherry hints.

This was an amazingly aromatic and flavorful Wuyi black tea with a ton to offer both casual and experienced drinkers. Despite its fruity sweetness, the tea liquor never came off as syrupy in the mouth, instead maintaining a strong, firm texture throughout my drinking session. There was also just enough balance provided by the tea’s other characteristics to keep the fruit aromas and flavors from being overwhelming and throwing everything out of whack. Fans of Wuyi black teas would undoubtedly enjoy this offering, but I think black tea fans who are used to sweeter teas and looking for a good entry into the world of Wuyi black tea would also be well served to check out this tea or one like it.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Cherry, Citrus, Cream, Guava, Herbaceous, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pineapple, Plums, Stonefruits, Straw, Strawberry, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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88

Let’s post a more positive review, shall we? This was one of my sipdowns from July. I had a couple sample pouches of this tea, both of which I received free with two different orders from Old Ways Tea. I finished one during the second half of the month and ended up putting the other in storage. I’ll probably drink it sometime next year to see how much greater aging will affect it. Though this tea was labeled as a Da Hong Pao, it was actually a Rou Gui, albeit a Rou Gui that was given a roast intended to mimic the qualities of some of the more floral Da Hong Pao blends. This treatment worked quite well for this tea, as I would never have been able to tell that it was 100% Rou Gui without reading the product description in advance.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 13 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, rock sugar, pine, smoke, char, ginger, and orchid. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond and roasted peanut that were accompanied by stronger cinnamon, char, and smoke scents. The first infusion brought out aromas of black cherry, strawberry, and blackberry alongside a more amplified ginger scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, pine, ginger, orchid, smoke, char, rock sugar, roasted peanut, blackberry, and black cherry that were balanced by hints of roasted almond, black raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, and red apple. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of blueberry, red apple, Asian pear, and black raspberry that were accompanied by subtle grass and cannabis scents. Notes of tobacco, minerals, cannabis, grass, nutmeg, rose, butter, baked bread, and cream appeared in the mouth alongside hints of cocoa, orange zest, roasted walnut, and Asian pear. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, pine, char, roasted peanut, grass, and cream notes that were underscored by hints of butter, smoke, roasted almond, roasted walnut, baked bread, tobacco, black cherry, cannabis, cocoa, and rock sugar.

This was both a very interesting and satisfying Wuyi oolong. I’m curious to see whether or not additional aging will bring out any new aromas and flavors or soften some of the tea’s rougher edges. Regardless of how it holds up down the road, this was a very good tea at the time I tried it. It was clearly coming into its own, perhaps even peaking. Fans of Da Hong Pao and some of the heavier roasted Wuyi oolongs would probably get a lot out of it.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Butter, Cannabis, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Ginger, Grass, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Raspberry, Red Apple, Roasted, Rose, Smoke, Strawberry, Sugar, Tobacco, Walnut

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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87

This review is one of many that I have been sitting on for several months. I know I finished what I had of this tea at some point during the first half of August. It seems crazy to me that I’m this far behind. Heck, I have one review from November 2018 that I still need to post, a few random things from July and September, and a whole chunk of reviews from August and October, not to mention an incrementally growing number of unpublished reviews for the current month. I have no clue if/when I will get everything posted here. At this rate, it will be sometime in either December or January even with my tea consumption greatly decreasing. Anyway, I recall this being a tea I was a little reticent about trying, as I loved the 2017 version of this tea and was concerned about this tea being described as less grassy. Ultimately, I found it to be less grassy and more fruity and floral, but I think being fruity and floral instead of overtly grassy worked for it. Now that I think about it, though, I don’t recall the 2017 tea being all that grassy. I’m pretty sure I also found it to be more fruity and floral, so I guess I was making much ado about nothing.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of baked bread, malt, straw, grass, honey, and cream. After the rinse, new aromas of roasted peanut and butter made themselves known alongside a subtle sweet potato scent. The first infusion introduced aromas of vanilla, roasted almond, and violet. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of baked bread, malt, grass, straw, cream, honey, roasted peanut, and roasted almond that were balanced by hints of butter, vanilla, violet, and pear. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of minerals, cocoa, candied orange, rose, pear, kumquat, red apple, and brown sugar. Sweet potato notes appeared in the mouth alongside stronger and more immediately evident impressions of vanilla, butter, and pear. The violet presence was also slightly amplified. Notes of cocoa, brown sugar, red apple, minerals, rose, candied orange, plum, peach, and kumquat appeared, and I even picked up a slight menthol presence in the aftertaste. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, candied orange, cream, butter, honey, malt, and sweet potato notes that were underscored by pleasant grass, kumquat, brown sugar, cocoa, rose, and violet hints.

Compared to the 2017 offering, this was a much sweeter tea, though it also displayed the savory characteristics of that tea. Having tried both, I can say that the 2017 tea struck me as being more balanced, more substantial, and more textured, while this one was lighter, sweeter, quirkier, and livelier. I think I had more fun drinking this tea than its older counterpart. Honestly, I found both teas to be very enjoyable. The 2017 offering felt more refined and a little more complete to me, but this tea was an absolute blast to drink and pick apart.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Candy, Citrus, Cocoa, Cream, Grass, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Plums, Red Apple, Rose, Straw, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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84

God, it’s been forever! It seems that every time I try to get myself into some sort of routine when it comes to posting tea reviews, something always happens that causes me to fall even further behind. In this case, it has been a combination of an oppressive work schedule, health issues, and a general sour mood that has left me not exactly feeling like writing in my extremely limited spare time. I’m going to start playing catch-up again with this review, or so I hope. This was my first sipdown of the month and a tea I had been meaning to get to long before I actually managed to motivate myself to try it. My limited experience with winter Shui Xian and previous positive experiences with various Shui Xian offered by Old Ways Tea told me that this would be a quality offering, and it was. It ended up being neither my favorite winter Shui Xian nor one of my favorite offerings from Old Ways Tea, but it was still a very nice tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of baked bread, cinnamon, raisin, roasted almond, honey, blackberry, charcoal, and pine. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of roasted peanut, smoke, earth, tar, and cannabis. The first infusion brought out a little rock sugar and orange zest on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of mushroom, cream, baked bread, roasted almond, roasted peanut, earth, tar, charcoal, and pine that were chased by hints of honey, cinnamon, blackberry, butter, smoke, and grass. The following infusions coaxed out aromas of rock sugar, malt, roasted walnut, grass, mushroom, cranberry, and pear alongside subtler scents of vanilla and red apple. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of blackberry, butter, cinnamon, smoke, and grass appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, black cherry, roasted walnut, orange zest, pear, red apple, pomegranate, cranberry, malt, and caramel notes. I also picked up some belatedly emerging cannabis hints and subtle notes of raisin, rock sugar, and vanilla. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized mineral, roasted almond, roasted peanut, roasted walnut, baked bread, caramel, butter, grass, blackberry, charcoal, and cinnamon notes that were underscored by hints of rock sugar, earth, mushroom, tar, smoke, vanilla, orange zest, black cherry, and pear.

This was a very complex and interesting tea. It was a little surprising to me that the characteristics of the roast (charcoal, pine, tar, smoke, etc.) came out so prominently and so strongly. Winter Shui Xian is generally not as heavily roasted as other Wuyi Shui Xian, and either this one was more heavily roasted than the average winter Shui Xian, or its roast somehow managed to retain a good deal of its strength and liveliness in storage. I have no clue which is the case. Anyway, this was a very good and very enjoyable Shui Xian, though it was a bit harsher and heavier than I have come to expect winter Shui Xian to be. I’m willing to bet that a few more months in storage would have mellowed it out a bit more.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Butter, Cannabis, Caramel, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cranberry, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Raisins, Red Apple, Roasted, Smoke, Sugar, Tar, Vanilla, Walnut

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
tea-sipper

Hope you feel better.

eastkyteaguy

Thanks. I’m working on it.

mrmopar

Indeed, prayers your way.

eastkyteaguy

Thanks. The support is appreciated.

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85

(from notes August 18, 2019)

This morning, I treated myself to a new tea-to-me vendor, Old Ways Tea.
I made the “mistake” of brewing this for 60s at 200 deg F. The resulting tea was strong. It had some amazingly darker robust flavors — Moss, earth, and slightly smokey flavor. The mouthfeel was amazingly smooth and silky with a clean finish. It was like how silk and velvet lay on your skin.

It was good but others reviews mention other flavors that I wanted to taste. (Also, I can’t compare this to any previous years, as some reviewers seem to indicate that previous years were better…)

I backed off the brew time because I wasn’t getting a lot of high notes so I brewed at 45 seconds. Flavors dropped down to tobacco, chocolate with an amazing cooling effect like ginger. The cha Qi fills the mouth and throat then the head. The mouthfeel is exactly the same.

Subsequent steepings had creamy textures and flavor of orange peel.

It’s an AMAZINGLY COMPLEX tea. Probably the best of example of a Wu Yi Black Tea. The way you brew it is going to dictate the flavor profile — none of which are bad but only based on your preference. This tea is a fine Scotch. The mouthfeel of silk and velvet is worth the price of admission.

This is a Tea you want to sit back and enjoy by itself. I’ll be ordering more.

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61

(backlog from 8/23/19)

By all rights, I should really love this tea. It hits all the right checkboxes. I really WANT to like this tea!

Amazing texture and body. This tea coats your tongue like honey syrup and doesn’t let go.
A nose of brown sugar, bread, honey, and citrus

Good set of flavors — honey, lemon zest, hints of spices (cinnamon), baked bread; Things I expect out of a WuYi Black Tea and that I enjoy

Balanced flavor profile — starts off slightly mineral/bitter that evens out to a thick honey.

But…I don’t love it It’s okay. It’s a good tea that I will not turn down if offered. I will gladly drink it for just the texture alone. But the combination of all of it, isn’t doing it for me. Others who have reviewed the previous’ years harvests have raved about the tea, including 2 people who seem to have the same tastes as me. So I don’t know if it’s just THIS year’s harvest or if it is just not for me.

It’s hard to compare harvest years as something might have gone wrong. If they still have the 2016/2017 harvest, I will pick up a sample to compare.

Brewing info:
- tea; 5.26g
- water: 150ml
- times: 20s, 30, 45, 60, 90

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Honey, Lemon Zest

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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80

This was another of my sipdowns from last week. I remember finishing what I had of this tea the day after I finished the sample pouch of Old Ways Tea’s 2017 Huang Guan Yin-Electric Roast. Their Premium Old Tree Black Teas are usually great offerings. I recall the 2016 offering being fantastic and the 2017 offering being very good, but not quite as good as the 2016. This tea marked yet another step down in terms of perceived quality. It was still a more or less very good offering, but it did not have the depth that made the other two teas so enjoyable.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of malt, pine, roasted almond, cinnamon, baked bread, straw, honey, and nutmeg. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut and green wood. The first infusion brought out a subtle smoky scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, baked bread, roasted peanut, roasted almond, and butter that were chased by hints of green wood, pine, nutmeg, cinnamon, and honey. The following infusions gradually brought out aromas of minerals, orange zest, leather, butter, lemon zest, and grass as well as stronger smoke aromas. Notes of smoke and straw came out in the mouth with a slightly amplified cinnamon presence as well as notes of minerals, leather, lemon zest, orange zest, grass, and cream. I also detected hints of brown sugar, raisin, red apple, and pear. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, green wood, orange zest, butter, roasted peanut, and lemon zest that were underscored by fleeting hints of grass, straw, roasted almond, pine, leather, cream, and smoke.

This tea shared many characteristics with its counterparts from the previous two years, but in my opinion, it lacked some of the quirks that made those teas so appealing. It also lacked the smooth, cooling finish that was especially enjoyable and pronounced in the 2016 tea. Overall, it did not come off as being as deep or as captivating as the previous offerings. Still, it was a mostly very enjoyable black tea and just suffered in comparison to those older teas. I don’t regret trying it at all, though I would by lying if I were to state that I am not hoping that Old Ways Tea’s 2019 Old Tree Black Tea will represent something of a step back up in terms of quality.

Flavors: Almond, Almond, Baked Bread, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Brown Sugar, Butter, Butter, Cinnamon, Cinnamon, Cream, Cream, Grass, Grass, Green Wood, Green Wood, Honey, Honey, Leather, Leather, Lemon Zest, Lemon Zest, Malt, Malt, Mineral, Mineral, Nutmeg, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orange Zest, Peanut, Peanut, Pear, Pear, Pine, Pine, Raisins, Raisins, Red Apple, Red Apple, Smoke, Smoke, Straw, Straw

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
derk

The 2016 was stellar. Wow.

Jade

This reminds me…I have to post my own review. I never tasted the previous versions so I can’t compare, but I did enjoy this particular tea.

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84

Okay, I finally seem to have more regular access to Steepster. For the better part of two weeks, I was either so busy that I had no time to contribute anything or could not log into my account due to constant 503 errors. Hopefully, things will change from this point forward. A lot has gone on since I posted my last set of reviews. Most significantly, I interviewed for a job at the local community college. I hadn’t been consistently looking for a new job for the better part of a year, and the few applications I submitted in that time did not net me any interviews. As a matter of fact, I had not been to a job interview since September 2018 prior to this last one. Unlike that earlier interview, I didn’t walk away from this last interview with a terrible feeling, so I guess that’s a good sign. At this point, I’m not sure I expect to be offered this job, though I hope I do receive the offer. Anyway, I did not feel like digging through notes from the summer, so I decided to take the opportunity to review a tea I polished off more recently. I only had a sample pouch of this tea to work with, and I finished it in a single day back around the start of last week. I was not expecting much out of it due to my strong preference for charcoal roasted Wuyi oolongs, but honestly, this was a very nice tea. It didn’t rival Old Ways Tea’s regular 2017 Huang Guan Yin, but for what it was, it was very good.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 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, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves emitted aromas of cinnamon, roasted almond, nutmeg, cream, strawberry, and raspberry. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of butter, orange zest, blackberry, and blueberry. The first infusion saw the strawberry aroma increase in strength while new aromas of vanilla and red grape appeared alongside subtle smoky scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, roasted almond, orange zest, butter, blueberry, and blackberry that were backed by hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, grass, smoke, black cherry, and raspberry. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of roasted peanut, grass, roasted grain, roasted beechnut, malt, and peach as well as subtler scents of grape leaf and green olive. Stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of grass, smoke, black cherry, and raspberry appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, roasted grain, roasted peanut, roasted beechnut, peach, and plum. Impressions of red grape and vanilla also emerged, and some hints of grape leaf, green olive, strawberry, and malt could also be detected. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized mineral, cream, butter, grass, roasted peanut, and roasted grain notes that were accompanied by an amplified malt presence and hints of green olive, smoke, grape leaf, roasted almond, roasted beechnut, vanilla, and orange zest.

Electric roasts generally do not allow the the full range of a tea’s quirks and complexities to shine, but this one was not overpowering and seemed to have been very skillfully applied, so that was not the case here. In truth, I’m used to cheap, rough electric roasted oolongs that kind of smell and taste like ashes or burnt toast, so my expectations were low going into the drinking session detailed in the previous paragraph. I was most certainly not expecting a very delicate, complex, playful tea with tons of aroma and flavor components. Still, this tea did start to fade sooner than I hoped it would, and having tried Old Ways Tea’s charcoal roasted 2017 Huang Guan Yin several months prior to this tea, I could tell that this was a lower quality offering. It just did not quite have the depth or balance of that tea. All in all, I still consider this a very good offering. If you’re the sort of person who thinks of electric roasted Wuyi oolongs as low quality teas with an overpowering ashy or smoky presence, this tea would certainly surprise you.

Flavors: Almond, Almond, Blackberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Blueberry, Butter, Butter, Cherry, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cinnamon, Cream, Cream, Grain, Grain, Grapes, Grapes, Grass, Grass, Malt, Malt, Mineral, Mineral, Nutmeg, Nutmeg, Nutty, Nutty, Olives, Olives, Orange Zest, Orange Zest, Peach, Peach, Peanut, Peanut, Plums, Plums, Raspberry, Raspberry, Roasted, Roasted, Smoke, Smoke, Strawberry, Strawberry, Vanilla, Vanilla, Vegetal, Vegetal

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Martin Bednář

I wish you good luck with a job :)

eastkyteaguy

Martin, thank you. I need all the luck I can get on the job front.

mrmopar

Good luck on the job front!

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92

I had to dig through my review notebook for this one. I knew I had a few reviews from July that I still needed to post, and this was one of them. I think I finished what I had of this tea around the end of the month, but I could be wrong as it’s been a while. I do know that I found this tea to be on par with Old Ways Tea’s 2016 Huang Guan Yin, perhaps just a little bit better.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 13 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 produced aromas of cream, blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry that were accompanied by subtle scents of cinnamon and plum. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, roasted almond, rose, and roasted grain as well as a subtle scent of smoke. The first infusion introduced a slight earthiness to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, roasted peanut, and roasted grain that were balanced by hints of cinnamon, mushroom, smoke, earth, roasted almond, and rose. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of dark wood, grass, charcoal, and roasted beechnut as well as subtler scents of roasted hazelnut, malt, and strawberry. Notes of black cherry, minerals, grass, charcoal, dark wood, plum, roasted beechnut, roasted hazelnut, and brown sugar appeared in the mouth along with slightly stronger rose and roasted almond notes and hints of green olive, malt, tar, and strawberry. As the tea faded, the liquor took on stronger malty and earthy characteristics while also emphasizing notes of minerals, cream, roasted peanut, grass, and roasted grain that were balanced by hints of green olive, roasted hazelnut, roasted almond, blueberry, and brown sugar.

This was such an interesting and complex tea. Compared to the 2016 offering, this tea struck me as being both fruitier and nuttier. It also offered some unexpected twists and turns over the course of my gongfu session. It was very satisfying and struck me as a truly excellent offering, but I could also see it not being for everyone.

Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Wood, Earth, Grain, Grass, Hazelnut, Malt, Mineral, Mushrooms, Nutty, Olives, Peanut, Plums, Raspberry, Roasted, Rose, Smoke, Strawberry

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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99

Tasting note NUMBER 400

Pure deliciousness! Thank you derk! I still have some, though just a little.

2.5 grams and boiling water. I am so hyped about this tea. Gaiwan, 85 ml.

I made several 30 seconds steeps. It was so great. Aroma was clearly autumn leaf pile, no florality, no funky notes, no… bold and strong aromas.
Taste: I could not explain it well I suppose. It is light, but full of taste. Refreshing, but bold. Woody, but as well mineral. Fruity, but not sweet or juicy. Hay, but not boring.

Caffeine boosting, but as well the mood boosting. Oh well.

Minute steeping was great too. Even two minutes – and nothing bad. I need to find another timing for this tea!

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Fruity, Hay, Mineral, Stonefruits, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 85 ML
gmathis

400 goes fast, doesn’t it?

Martin Bednář

Way too fast in my opinion. Maybe I am spending here too much time. But it makes me so happy to share with others. That’s bit weird, because – I am in real life rather introvert. But – my goal is to improve and keep my English.

gmathis

I think the overwhelming majority of Steepsters fit the introverted description—we’re a good fit for one another!

derk

Glad you liked it, Martin.

Martin Bednář

It’s amazing how different can be one plant. Sometimes it brings me nostalgic mood, sometimes hype, sometimes just good mood. So, indeed I liked it derk.

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99

No rating, so far.

Grandpa, 2 grams, almost boiling water.

Is it too hot? Not enough leaves? Answer for both is nope. It was awesome tea! So smooth. And taste? Well hard to describe actually, it reminded me cream, but with wood and wet forest. Bit of minerality was there too. Astringency? Yep, but just a little bit.

Autumn tea. At least for me.

Derk; I have waited for good weather for this tea. And as it is typical autumn; wet, cloudy, rainy, unpleasant weather, I think it was just perfect. THANK you a lot for this experience!

ashmanra

I have had one or two teas from this comoany and remember they were impressive. Glad you enjoyed your tea today!

derk

You’re welcome, Martin. It is very good prepared in a gaiwan if you haven’t already.

Now I am envious because the weather became hot here again ~30C.

Martin Bednář

I have to try it in gaiwan as well, I have something left. I bet it will be awesome then. Today morning was temperature just 1°C. Which is kind of cold. I took my winter jacket and in the afternoon it was completely useless, but rainproof. I hate this weather when you do not know what to wear.

derk

I would love more 1C weather so I can drink all these comforting rock oolong and puerh teas in my closet! It will be cooling down a little over the next few days but we are under a high wildfire warning due to a combination of seasonal high winds and low relative humidity. To anticipate the possibility of wind-felled power lines sparking fires, the electric company might be cutting power to a very large region of northern California, effecting hundreds of thousands of people. According to the map, my house is one street outside the power outage zone, so I’m unsure if we’ll be without electricity for the next few days. My employer 2km up the road is in the zone but we have generators and due to the nature of our business, will be open to serve the community’s needs.

Mastress Alita

Todd’s new house was in the power outage zone. It was restored yesterday though.

derk

He moved, too? I hope he wasn’t effected too severely by the power outage. Only a small portion of my town ended up having the power cut but I’d say half my coworkers were effected.

derk

I wonder if Old Ways Tea was in the zone since they’re located I think in San Jose or Santa Clara.

Martin Bednář

I hope those temperatures would not make big troubles for anybody. Extremes are always bad.

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Gongfu Sipdown (706)!

A mid afternoon session – really pleasant, decidedly somewhere in the middle (experience/taste wise) of all the other Old Ways Teas I’ve tried thus far. I did have this same tea type, I believe, not too long ago from Lazy Cat though – and if my memory isn’t totally failing me I liked the one from Lazy Cat a bit more than this one.

I don’t remember the steep count – but, like the Lazy Cat one, I brewed this out…

Insta Thoughts:

Dry leaf aroma is intense – smells of heavy roast accented w/ sharp grass notes!! Steeps up bold & takes a beat to soften/mellow out but then has a complex profile of grilled/roasted nuts, sweeter peanut brittle, full bodied roast, minerality, greener undertones and hints of orchid, slight cinnamon notes in the finish and… herbaceous and slightly creamy dill!?!?

Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/B2aGJfZAoas/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rmZPJA3Py0

(OBSESSED with this band – been listening to them nonstop all week…)

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82

(From my backlog)
Tasted during the Labor Day holiday in America.

I’m very happy with the teas from Old Ways Tea that I’ve picked up. This is a 2008 Aged Da Hong Pao that’s been re-roasted a few times.

There’s deep roasted flavors of tobacco, burnt wood, and smoke; lighter flavors of chocolate and coffee with milk; then it rounds out with High notes of vanilla, brown sugar, and caramel. Early infusions were interesting — tobacco followed by the cooling effect of mint (without any mint)

It’s very well balanced and robust. The roasted flavors don’t overwhelm the palate. It’s super smooth to drink with a surprisingly light viscosity and clean finish.

The cold brew of this tea is just as tasty.

Brewing information:
Tea amount: 5 grams for HOT
Style: Gongfu
Water: 150ml
Temp: 200 F
Brewing times: 20,30,30, 45, 60

Cold Brew: 3 grams
Water: 300 ml of water

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Chocolate, Coffee, Cream, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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71

I’m catching up on my tea reviews.

I like trying different teas that might not be in my preferred flavor profile.. Trying different things is an exercise in growth. It lets you understand WHY you like something, appreciation for those differences, as well as teaching that differences aren’t bad. Just like life.

This tea is not in my preferred flavor profile (i.e. I do not enjoy very strong smokey/roasted flavors such as lapsong souchong), but I enjoyed it nonetheless. It was a good look into how you can really make something balance out without overwhelming the palette with a single flavor …..I’m looking at you, micro-breweries, that make IPAs too damn hoppy!

Flavors: Smoke/Roast/Charcoal followed by a mild sweetness of cooked stone fruit (apricot? peach?). The smokey/roasted/charcoal notes is ALMOST overpowering but is countered by the sweet of of the fruit. It’s a viscous liquid that coats the tongue with little to no astringency. It has a very clean finish.

For anyone who enjoys the smokey roasted flavors, this is a really good tea to try. This tea brings those out without overwhelming the drinker, giving them a good look at how these flavors can be balanced out.

Brewing info:
Tea: 5.02 grams
Water: 150 ml
Temp: 200-201 F
Brewing time: 20-20-30-45
Vessel: Porcelain Gaiwan

Flavors: Roasted, Smoke, Stonefruits

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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