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Recent Tasting Notes
Early spring (March 2020) picking; bright, clean flavors!
Dry notes: sweet corn husk, freshly cut thick grass, warm hay.
Wet notes: pea shoots, green beans, dewey spring morning.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Cut grass, Garden Peas, Green Beans, Hay
Nursed a mug of this Grandpa style all day at the office today; it was very sullen but at least the tea was good and enjoyable. I found the flavour quite thick and creamy, with an overall sweetness and coating, soft mouthfeel. Aside from a beautiful clotted cream type of note, there was a faint hint of lemon to the profile as well. Enjoyed this throughout the day, and very thankful for a solid work stash of tea at the moment…
Fantastic offering! Brewed in 200 ml yixing at ~195F, gets about 8 good steeps. It’s a bug-bitten tea, and the honey notes are immediate and up front in the aroma and the taste. I’ve had dongfang meiren (“Oriental beauty”), another bug-bitten tea, but I think it’s even better here as a black/red tea. Good sweet/tannin balance, long lasting finish, fairly thick mouthfeel. Up there with the best un-aged teas I’ve had.
Flavors: Butterscotch, Chocolate, Honey, Malt, Roasted Barley, Tannin
I made this while eating a baked brie covered with mango habanero jelly and working on my trusts law assignment. That was not what I intended on working on today but my partner is super on top of things and had already started drafting and I didn’t want to seem like a slacker. So I added to the assignment, hopefully useful information, and sipped on this tea.
Since I was focused on the assignment and not the tea, the sips were spread out and I don’t really remember much other than it being fairly meh. Decent but nothing special. It is now cold and seems to have maintained the same malt/flavor of the hot tea which is impressive that it is consistent at all temperatures. Still, at any temperature, there is nothing amazing about this. Good for every day, absent-minded sipping though. Thanks Roswell Strange for sharing!!
Very late night tea session, so pretty short – even more so because it was interrupted by my landlord coming over to fix something in the kitchen. Pleasant though, and exactly what I wanted/expected from a Bai Mu Dan! Lovely & smooth with notes of timothy hay, clotted cream, and cucumber skins!! Nothing complex or out of the ordinary – and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
Gongfu Sipdown (807)!
I finished this one off last week – I was very proud of myself for sipping down what was one of the larger bags of black tea that had been part of my office tea stash. However, in the week afterwards I’ve realized that I need more office black teas because it’s something I’m gravitating to a lot right now…
I described this session on instagram as:
Robust & full bodied, with some pine wood, mild smoke, and bitter baker’s chocolate notes!! Perfect break from a few sweeter teas from earlier in the day…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t50T7eEQXCo
Western mug of this from Friday afternoon – was craving a nice black tea!
I drank this in between working on different projects so it was always fleeting sip at a time and eventually I was just drinking a cold mug of tea because I’d stretched it so long – but the taste was very nice and it was incredibly smooth. No astringency/bitterness, very forgiving to what was a really long steep time, and stayed very tasty even after cooling. I found it a touch jammy, but mostly more on the woody/spicy side of things: notes of oak, cumin, nutmeg and a little malty smoke. Kind of that “leather” quality that I like in blacks teas a lot, as well!
Gongfu from this morning, drank at work.
It was only a 1/2 day today at work which was very fortunate for me – with my ear infection I don’t think I would have lasted a full day, I was already doing mad at my desk with pain and restlessness by hour two of the day.
I wasn’t very happy with this session – but I’m going to revisit the tea since I have a gut feeling that all the tea I consume throughout the course of this ear infection are going to be perceived more negatively than they otherwise would be.
I did stretch the session out over the course of the whole morning – and the taste was actually alright; kind of a honeyed sweetness, bit of a baked bread note, and a higher noted red fruit profile (pomegranate, red apple?). I would normally really enjoy that combination of flavours so I’m not particularly sure why I didn’t today. The finish was a little smokey and had a sort of aggressive dryness about it, and that was really the nail in the coffin.
As I said, I’m going to rebrew this when I feel well – and we’ll see how I feel about it then,
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iI34LYmJ1Fs
Very, very busy week at work – so I didn’t get to do a lot of more involved tea drinking during my work days (like Gong Fu/lattes/etc). In fact, in between all the hustle and bustle it was actually pretty damn challenging finding the time to make a mug of tea – but I did manage to enjoy this tea steeped Grandpa style for a few hours on Thursday! I found it tasted pretty smooth, with a nice mild and consistent earthiness with a sweeter undertone and hints of lovely stonefruit flavours (plum/raisin) in the undertones. This is probably one of the nicest aged Sheng teas I’ve ever tried, to be honest. It was very rich and smooth, and unlike a lot of other Sheng that I’ve tried.
Shared with me by a coworker…
I wanted to really enjoy this one because I do quite like what feels like a lot of aged oolong; and the smell of the dry leaf was actually incredible. Toasty and warm, with a sweet cocoa and nutty quality and a hint of cooked/stewed fruits? Intriguing!
Steeped, I did find I was underwhelmed with the taste though. The roast level was pretty nice; sort of medium to high roast with some cocoa element and nutty qualities; like a heavily roasted hazelnut/chestnut mix with some mineral elements. I didn’t really get any “plum” or fruitiness at all from the cup; in fact really the only other note was that weird sort of semi-creamy and herbaceous dill note that I sometimes get from more heavily roasted/oxidized oolongs that no one else ever seems to notice. Plus, the whole infusion just felt a little bit flat/dull. I think I just needed more; more nuance, “levels” of flavour, and some bitterness or acidity or something to give more life to the body of this sip. All in all, it felt kinda one note…
Gongfu – steeped in the hongcha yixing.
I don’t remember much about this session, it was a little later in the day and in all honesty it was also a bit rushed. I wanted to get one last black tea in before I lost all natural light for the evening. It was delicious, but if I’m recalling correctly very typical Golden Monkey notes. Sweet, rich, malty, smooth, chocolate – y’know, all the things. Great tasting tea, doesn’t last all that long Gongfu. Maybe three good infusions, one bad.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V465T95i6lM
Short little Gong Fu session after work on Thursday night…
I didn’t want to brew too many steeps of this since I wasn’t in the mood for a caffeine buzz at eight or nine at night, but I had maybe five steeps and since I was very heavy handed on the leaf I used all of them were quite strong/flavourful. Very similar though – brisk, full bodied tea with strong chocolate notes, a bit of malt, and some raisin/smoke undertones.
Just saying, The Taxpayers are my current music obsession right now and I HIGHLY recommend checking out their music. It’s so good.
It’s been a while since I last had a really good Golden Monkey, but this was a good Golden Monkey!! I brewed it up Gong Fu last weekend and drank it at the same time as I was enjoying a baked brie with crab apple topping on Parmesan crisps, with slices of asian pear. I could wax poetic about how amazing the tea was and how amazing the food was for, well, forever but to keep it simple…
The pairing worked VERY well because, throughout all thirteen steeps, the tea tasted strongly and deliciously of milk chocolate – and chocolate just really compliments all of the different elements of the food: creamy cheeses, red apples, pear. Like, it ALL just went together in a super fluid way. I don’t want to be completely immodest, but this pairing was basically a stroke of genius on my part.
10/10 – would drink while enjoying baked brie again.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cream, Malt
Exciting news — I’m within a weekend tasting fest or two of completing the taste-and-write-an-initial-note-about-all-the-teas-in-my-cupboard project! After today, the count is:
pu erh: 4
This isn’t my entire tea universe as there is still the random selection of pu erh samples to taste and a few newly arrived teabag and other single serving samples, but it will be another little tea project accomplished.
I may be out of town next weekend, though, which means accomplishing the goal will need to wait until later in the month. But I’m pretty excited about being within striking distance.
The dry leaf of this one has a lovely creamy-floral green smell.
Gaiwan. 195F, rinse, 15 seconds plus 5 for each additional steep.
The tea is a pale yellow with a green tinge. It has a natural dairy smell that does not seem to have been artificially enhanced, with some floral notes as well. It is light bodied and smooth.
This is different than other “pouchongs” I have had, which tend to be more oxidized. This one is very green, and although it isn’t as floral as some of my favorite green oolongs, it’s really lovely.
Flavors: Cream, Creamy, Floral, Green
While I don’t think this is a 100 like some others who have rated it, I agree that it’s a really special tea.
In the packet, it smells like roasted peanuts or cashews. In any case a legume-nut roasted smell. The leaves look like a typical green oolong rolled green leaves, and they unfurl to a volume that is significantly greater than their dry volume. But that’s where the comparison stops to other green oolongs I have had.
Gaiwan. 195F. Rinse, then steeped starting at 15 seconds and adding 5 to each subsequent steep.
The roasted nut smell is primarily the smell of the steeped tea, except for a very strong, sweet, floral note. The tea is more golden-amber in color than a typical green oolong, but not as dark as a dark oolong.
The taste is also roasted nuts (heavier on the nuts than the roasting) and sweet flowers, with a bit of a fruity note around the edges. I wouldn’t call it peach though I can’t pin it down. The flavor isn’t heavily stonefruit in the way of some dark oolongs. No cream, no butter, no milk in the way of some green oolongs.
Basically, it has a flavor that is different than a lot of other oolongs I’ve had. Not as different as the Hawaiian one I had earlier today, but also very tasty.
Untasted, un-noted cupboard update:
Pu erh: 6
Herbal (rooibos): 1
Blooming single servings: 5
I’m going to remove the blooming ones from the cupboard. I think they’re more like samples since they are one of each.
Which means 12 teas left to taste and write notes about, not including the tea bag samples, the blooming teas, and the sample pu erhs.
I don’t think I’m going to be writing more notes today since it is after 11:30. But at this rate, I should be through my cupboard by the end of the month (or before).
It may take longer to get through the pu erh samples.
Flavors: Floral, Peanut, Roasted nuts, Sweet
So, I finished this one off Gong Fu last weekend – and despite knowing in the moment that I should write about it right away or I’d forgot a lot of the details of the session I still put off writing that tasting note. #chronicprocrastinator
I do remember that the flavour was very similar to what I observed when I drank this Western style – just more nuanced, and developing over time. Just so incredibly sweet and smooth; primarily this thick and rich honey note but also different intensities of florals, jammy fruits, and sweet potato through the very long, drawn out session. Like – eighteen infusions long! It’s been quite a while since I’ve brewed up a black tea Gong Fu with that much staying power!
Thanks again to the coworkers, and chaolystea who recommended this one for me! It’s probably the first tea from Red Blossom that I’ve been deeply impressed by and that I would actually purchase for myself!
So this tea was actually recommended to me by three different people – Chaolystea on instagram, and two separate people at the office. One of the office people actually had some of this in their personal tea stash, and was nice enough to bring me a sample bag of it to try for myself.
Quick side bar just to say how weird it feels to say/type “my office” as I really never pictured myself as the kind of person who would ever end up working in that sort of environment – it feels strangely and absurdly “adult” of me to say it and almost a ‘Ha! I fooled you into hiring me and thinking I was an adult worthy of working in an office!’ type of situation…
But anyway; as per coworker recommendations I brewed this first cup strong – a little extra leaf, and a longer than normal steep time for a Western cup. I was surprised that the infusion was actually super light bodied and smooth, even with all the extra brewing. Also, I suppose, glad for the advice because based on the infusion that I yielded this would have tasted very weak following my usual Western style preparation.
As light bodied as it was though, it was deeply delicious and I ca 100% see why so many people had encouraged me to try it. The body was a beautiful mix of soft floral notes and creamed honey, and the undertones were delicate caramelized peach and oter stone fruit notes with a tiny, tiny hint of cinnamon. It tied together beautifully as an overall profile and made for a very nuanced, balanced profile. I especially liked the lingering sweetness on the tip of my tongue following finishing a sip; like that sticky sweet residue you get after eating a good piece of toffee – only flavoured like honey instead of caramel.
I have some more of the coworker’s sample left – and I was told I should Gong Fu what I have left so that’s what I’m going to do. SUPER excited about how lovely that Gong Fu session will probably be though!
It was bound to happen. As I started to get to what looked like the last few oolongs, I found I hadn’t entered this one into my cupboard. Sigh. So now I have more tea than I thought I had.
But perhaps the good news is that I may have less than I thought I had. I haven’t been able to locate in my stash a couple of the teas that were already in my Steepster cupboard. Unless they’ve been put somewhere I wouldn’t ordinarily put them by someone else in the household, I’m throwing in the towel on them, on the theory that I sipped them down before without recording them. Or just entered them by mistake, which seems more likely. One was a Lupicia “milky” oolong and it’s possible I entered that under a more generic entry at first and then entered it under its actual name later. Same with a Chicago Tea Room tieguanyin. Who knows.
In any case, this tea. You’re going to think I’m weird, but when I stuck my nose in the packet, I thought “peanut butter.” There’s a nutty smell that has a toasted edge to it. On further consideration, it is likely almond. This is all very interesting, because the dry leaves look like your standard green oolong. Varying hues of green, rolled into balls.
Gaiwan. Rinse, 190F (still can’t get the Zo to heat up to 195F today for some reason), 15 seconds +5 for each subsequent steep.
This is a really, really nice tea. It’s color is definitely that of a green oolong, a medium yellow, rather than that of a dark oolong.
It smells a little nutty, a little fruity (peach?), and a lot honey — not roasty toasty like a dark oolong or floral buttery like a green one. It seems to exist in a sort of in between the dark and the green. The flavor is just like the smell. It’s mild, light bodied, and easy to drink.
Giving it high marks for being unusual (and tasty).
Flavors: Almond, Honey, Peach, Peanut, Roasted, Toasty
When I read “infused with the creaminess of milk” I thought I would dislike this. I’ve not had the best of luck with so-called milk oolongs with an exception or two. I have come close to gagging on some of the heavier ones.
So when I smelled the dry leaf of this in the packet, I was prepared for the worst. It has a sort of sprayed on buttery thing going on, like the butter flavor in butter flavored popcorn. In the packet, it smells to me like white rice as a butter delivery vehicle.
Gaiwan. 190F (for some reason my water isn’t heated all the way to 195 in the Zo), rinse, steep for 15 seconds plus 5 per steep for four steeps.
The first steep is pale yellow, which darkens to a champagne yellow and is clear. The third steep darkened to a yellow that was as buttery as the aroma.
The steeped tea’s aroma is also very rice-butter but the flavor is much milder.
There is definitely milk and cream, and maybe a little butter, in the flavor but there’s a sweetness that keeps it from heading toward buttermilk. It’s actually a pretty unique flavor, one I can’t recall tasting in other oolongs. It doesn’t really present as fruity to me, but perhaps that’s what I’m tasting, the hints of passionfruit and mango, and I’m just not recognizing it as such. The caramel is more apparent to me.
It’s always fun when you go into tasting a tea expecting to be horrified and you’re pleasantly surprised. While this is a shadow of the The O Dor, it’s one of the better milk flavored oolongs I’ve had, even with the “infused” bit.
Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Cream, Milk, Popcorn, Rice
So it turns out that I had another of the Red Blossom Phoenix oolongs in my collection. Cool.
In the packet it has a sharp, dark oolong smell that has some roasty-toasty elements but also a metallic/rock one.
Gaiwan. Rinse. 195F, 15 seconds plus five for each subsequent steep.
It’s an apricot color and clear, and definitely has honey notes in the aroma and flavor. I also get something that’s a little like rice? On the first couple of steeps I don’t get anything particularly floral, but there is something fruity. When I first saw someone else’s note about passion fruit I was skeptical, but it actually could be that!
Also, there are hints of something nutty in the later steeps.
It’s a very interesting and complex little tea. I can imagine it being the sort of thing you can taste differences in depending upon when you drink it, whether you’ve had other teas or food earlier in the day, and other factors.
Rating it the same as the almond version. It is different — more subtle, more complex — but I like them about the same.
Flavors: Honey, Metallic, Nutty, Passion Fruits, Rice, Roasted, Toasty, Wet Rocks
Dammit. I hit the wrong thing and lost the note I wrote on this. I’ll try to recreate.
I started by saying something self-deprecating about how I was still drinking tea even though I said I was going to stop given the hour. It’s a rainy, cold day that begs for curling up with something to warm your hands and your chest. So I am cheating. I hope I don’t stay up all night as a result.
Then I’d said that I found nothing really different about the smell of the dry leaf, which is roasty-toasty and has a sharp note like a lot of other dark oolongs I’ve had.
But then, I said, that all changed in the steeping. Gaiwan. Rinse. 195F starting at 15 seconds and adding 5 seconds for each subsequent steep.
The tea is a rich amber and clear. The first steep brought out a surprising cherry note, and a cinnamon note, that I did not expect. Really interesting change up from other teas of this type.
The second steep brought out caramel-toffee notes, as additions, not as notes that supplanted the others. The cinnamon note was in the fore in steep 3.Reading some of the negative notes about this I feel as though I was tasting a completely different tea than they describe. My experience was awesome.
Flavors: Caramel, Cherry, Cinnamon, Roasted, Toasty, Toffee
Getting a very late start to the morning.
The family wanted to eat dinner before going to the concert last night, which resulted in us having to rush on the other end to find parking. Who knew there were so many parking lots around the SAP center? Anyway, after finally finding parking we had to hustle to walk what seemed like about half a mile to the venue.
We were walking down the stairs to ours seats when Bennie and the Jets started. The usher kind of gestured us to where we were supposed to go with the result that we ended up in the wrong seats — we were actually supposed to be several rows forward of where we were, which we found out during All the Girls Love Alice. So the entry was a bit chaotic. I had wanted to get there early enough to get drinks and maybe a T shirt, but c’est la vie. I was so thirsty by the end of the concert I bought four bottles of water from a street vendor and drank two of them on the walk back to the car.
By the way, we forgot where we parked. So we wandered around a bit before finding a kindly police officer who gave us some suggestions. We finally got home around 12:30.
Anyway, not sure I’ll drink much tea this morning since it’s almost noon.
But this one is very mellow and nice. The dry leaves have a rice-like aroma in the packet along with a very green note. The leaves are green to yellowish green and tightly balled.
Gaiwan. 195F. Rinse. 15 seconds +5 through four steeps.
This is really lovely. A gentle, primarily floral aroma and flavor. Along with the floral, there’s a surprisingly pleasing vegetal flavor (spinach?). The wet leaves smell like spinach.
The tea is a rather deep yellow and clear. Later steeps have a quality that is brothy, not savory, just satisfying in a way that feels nourishing on a cold rainy day.
Flavors: Broth, Floral, Green, Spinach, Vegetal