Red Blossom Tea CompanyEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Ooh this one is savory. I’m getting buttered popcorn and fresh grass, the body is oily and has a nice, long and sweet finish on the palate. Reminiscent of a sencha with balance and body.
Much different than the Mao Cha I had last night, really pleasant after-dinner drinker for sure. I mixed two infusions for a great experience. About to infuse my third.
Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Grass, Popcorn, Sweet, Umami
I’m so so disappointed with this one.
When I heard about this tea in Red Blossom’s teashop, the idea of a matcha made from Lishan oolong material was so exciting to me. They even grind it in house! I kinda wish I had asked more questions like, do you remove the stems to simulate tencha, like matcha? How often is the oolong ground? Maybe it was the marketing that got to me, because this tea powder is a terrible stand in for matcha, as it was advertised.
I was very careful to make this to the package suggestions, making sure that the water temp and ratio was just right. I sifted the powder and was hit with a very strong floral notes, just like you’d think a Taiwanese oolong would have. I slowly added water and then let my whisk do it’s frothy thing. The resulting brew was grainy and bitter as hell, with the strong floral at the forefront making way for the grassiness and bitter bite underneath. I tried my best, but I couldn’t even finish the cup. Now I sort of wish I had made it into a latte, perhaps I could have finished it then…
I think i remember trying some powdered oolongs from The Tea Kings eons back… come to think of it, it was weird then too XD
Flavors: Ash, Biting, Bitter, Cut Grass, Gardenias
I didn’t know this existed! But I can understand your frustration, when a matcha is bad the concentrated nature of koicha or usucha amplifies all the bad notes making it hard to finish. I’ll stick to my current sources.
Yeah :/ it was fun to explore a different form of a Lishan oolong, but I think it’s sort of misleading to label it as matcha or even an alternative of matcha. Whole leaf is so much more tasty heh
Got this as a sample when I was in SF earlier this month. I’m always on the lookout for something unique and lovingly made, so the description of this tea fit the bill to a T(ea). I wanted to give this sample a respectful try, and I am so glad that I slowed myself down and noticed the brewing instructions on the sample packet. I had the hot water freshly boiled when I noticed the recommended brew temp was 180. Not usually what i subject most black tea in my collection to, but I cooled down my water out of respect.
I instantly loved the smell of the dry leaf. Perhaps it was because I haven’t had a ‘fresh’ tea in a while, but the scent of raisin with a hint of nutmeggy spice was so loud, my mouth started watering. The first infusion was a hint at what was to come. the Second and third infusions was where it’s at. Sweet honey bug bitten deliciousness with a dose of fruity mellowness. I also got a dash of mineral nippiness to go with all the other goodness. Yancha? Is that you? This black tea from across the water is giving me some yan yun qualities that I would expect from a wuyi oolong. The cooler temp for sure had a factor in this tea. The long loosely rolled leaves furthered the comparison. This was such a fun black tea to drink.
I would really consider getting a full 2oz if i’m back in San Francisco, even if the $52 price tag has me going, “Daamn!”
Flavors: Cherry, Honey, Mineral, Raisins, Stonefruit
Got this sample at Red Blossom when I was in town earlier this month. I am a massive smoky tea fan, just add lapsang to any tea blend and I appear from the mist to get my hands on it. (or should I say smoke?) I ‘m very excited to try this one, my tea cupboard feels off when there’s no lapsang in it. I technically have a Joseph Wesley LS, but it’s not the smoky kind. Don’t get me wrong, I love that tea, but it’s no campfire daydream. I brewed this western style, and felt such a rush of relief upon first whiff – I had found the LS i was missing in my life! The luscious pine smokiness blended with the robust black tea effortlessly. It’s like standing in front of a bonfire wrapped in a blanket. I wanted to see if this tea was not too harshly smoked for some blends i wanted to add it to. And lo, I immediately added some WP Golden Orchid to my teapot after the first sip. When digging in my old Steepster notes, I was last on the hunt for a good smoked vanilla black tea. Now I’m sipping on some velvety, chocolatey, smoked vanilla goodness. It is said that good things come to those who wait, and this forgotten itch has been very thoroughly scratched.
Flavors: Campfire, Leather, Malt, Pine, Smoke, Wood
Picked up 2oz of this tea on my most recent SF trip. it’s been a while since I’ve dived into jasmine tea, i think i’ve gotten burned by enough bad blends in the past to turn me off of the stuff for a while. It wasn’t until my partner and I had some sweetened with a light touch of honey at a hand pulled noodle spot in Chinatown did my interest re-awaken. I wanted to be a little more selective with my next jasmine tea in my collection, and Red Blossom Tea in SF had three levels to choose from. I love the novelty of a dragon pearl, watching them pop gives me so much joy. The leaves of these pearls are massive and sturdy, they impart such a mellow lightness that is heavy on the jasmine in the first steep. It’s not too chemical or overpowering, but the delicateness of the tea base takes at least a steep to fully appear. I tried this gongfu style in a 100ml teapot with very pleasant results, i am curious to see how this turns out iced in the warmer months.
Flavors: Fruit Tree Flowers, Grassy, Green Beans, Jasmine
Picked up some of this at Red Blossom Tea on my trip to San Francisco this past weekend. I walked by the place twice before realized that they were right on grant street where all the Lunar New Year festivities were happening! The shop is small and the have a nice small selection of really beautiful teas. Although the price tags make me balk, the quality is unquestionably there. I got this tea to replace my ippodo sencha as a daily drinker. I also got a few samples; the most exciting of which is their Lishan Matcha – a Taiwanese oolong based matcha. Very interested to try that sample sooon.
On to this tea! This particular bag of leaves are from the 2022 spring harvest. The dry leaf is a nice heap of deep green twisted pine needles. I had some this morning before work gongfu style and am currently sipping on it grampa style. It has a pleasant, rich buttery-ness that cradles the vegetal sweet notes. The brewed leaf is tiny and mostly unbroken, bright verdant green. This tea is very easy to drink; even with an absent minded oversteep, the astringency is very mild. There isn’t much to dislike in this bright and happy tea. Very glad to have tried it!
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Honeysuckle, Sweet Corn
I drank this tea a few days ago but got distracted and didn’t take good notes, so I drank it again today, with my family, and took better notes.
Prepared with 6g of tea to about 5 oz. 195 water. 1 minute infusions after a 5 second rinse.
First notes on the nose were of a pleasant campfire and a bit nutty. Strong floral.
The first taste of this tea and I remembered what I liked so much about it. A smooth long finish that tastes like toffee. It’s what inspired me to buy this tea and sure enough, it was there!
Second cup was very grassy and somewhat bitter. I let the infusion go to about 1 1/2 minutes by accident so I wondered if that is why the bitter tannin taste came out.
Third cup was even more bitter. I found myself with an internal struggle on wether or not to drink my cup as I LOVE the aftertaste of this tea but I wasn’t sure it was worth the bitter tea to be drank to get it. I ended up drinking the tea and have been rewarded with a lingering aftertaste that is still present while I write this.
So now the question is, do I recommend this tea? I’ve stopped using the number rating system for a couple of reasons. 1, it’s hard to use on an iPad. I can’t get to a specific number, only a ballpark and that doesn’t seem fair. 2, I don’t want my wacky newcomer opinion to skew teas ratings AND in situations like this, I’ve got no idea what to go with. I can’t give it 90 for the fabulous finish and 50 for the bitter grass all in the same review so better to just write out my experience and let the reader decide how and if to be influenced.
That being said, I decided to be my polite American self and recommend it although, I’m really 50/50 on this one.
I’d welcome any suggestions on how to avoid the grassy bitterness if it’s possible. Without that, this tea is wonderful in my humble opinion.
Some roasted teas are just bitter and grassy, or you might not like this flavour profile. (I tend to avoid roasted teas because they often taste one dimensional to me, though others get more out of them.) You might try shorter steeps of 30 or 45 seconds or so to see if that mitigates the bitterness while retaining the pleasant aftertaste.
I would say if you’re using gongfu parameters in terms of tea:water ratio, your steep times seem quite long. Generally after the rinse you would start with quite short steeps (10-15s) and gradually increase the length with each steep.
Thanks Leafhopper! I came back to this tea a few hours later and tried again and the bitterness had subsided! Had two more infusions with the pleasant aftertaste and no (or very little) bitterness. It must be magic tea. I will try the shorter infusions too.
Thanks Cameron. I’ve been a bit confused as the sellers seem to be recommending 1-2 minute steeps and so I’m trying to follow directions but am figuring out that they don’t always work. Yesterday, I shortened my steeps but today I was preparing for family so wanted to make it “correctly” so it would be good. Lol! That back fired. I will try much shorter steeps next time.
That’s interesting, obviously if that’s their recommendation for this tea it makes sense to follow it. But I would say if you’re finding it bitter, shortening the steep is a good thing to try.
I’m glad the tea worked out for you! I’d still consider experimenting with shorter steeps to see if you like that profile better.
I’ve been confused in part because I think they are putting western style brew instructions on their teas but in the product videos etc. they are promoting gong fu brewing? I’m starting to get more comfortable following my instincts and suggestions from the group. It makes total sense. This is the second tea I’ve had bitterness with and was brewing longishly.
Kaylee, I hadn’t thought of that with this tea, great idea! I’ll try it.
Im definitely going to shorten my brew times and try again. I think I’ll dig out the honey orchid and give it a go again too. Thanks guys!
I try to follow vendor’s instructions at first too, but if it is too bitter — shortening time of steep certainly helps. Leafhopper says they taste onedimensional to them and yet I have to disagree greatly. But of course, as others said, you might not like this flavour profile or tea itself. There can be “same-same, but different” teas as well. Consider my head-to-head ratings of Uva teas for instance.
Martin yes, I see what you mean. Teas can be very similar and still somehow different. Maybe a different harvest, or different finishing or processing. And it can be the difference between yay, or nay.
Tea ratings are so subjective; I would rate them on if you would purchase again or not. Or if you are happy just to try it and would swap it with another tea that someone else might enjoy more. There are certainly some beloved teas here on steepster, but there are plenty more that some folks like and some do not!
Good point Michelle. I should start noting if I’d like to swap certain teas, as I’m itching to get to swap in general!
The Teahouseghost on youtube talks about letting the tea tell you the time and temperature it likes, judging by the aroma when you first start preparing it. I use that method sometimes. When the water hits the leaves, I check the aroma and if ti is super strong or bitter smelling, it gets less time and lower temp. His videos are pretty helpful. It is So Han Fan of West China Tea House.
I’ve gotten lazier and lazier with my gongfucha ha ha, now I don’t time anything and just judge when to pour based on the color. XP
Ashmanra- that sounds super interesting, I will have to check out his videos. It makes sense though as even within the same type, it seems the tea has varying preferences.
Cameron- lol! Is it laziness or just your mastery of the process coming through? ;)
What a great conversation. I am quite new to gong fu but haven’t really embraced the scientific method… I know my first few steeps generally fall out as guesstimates of immediate/10secs/15-20 secs/30ish… if something starts washing out, I start increasing time more generously, etc. There are so many teas and temperatures and times that it makes my head spin. I’ll be off now to check out Teahouseghost and justify (er… refine!) my willy-nilliness. :D
This is for the winter (2022?) harvest.
I steeped 5g to 5 oz. At 185 with a 3 second rinse. First aroma is vegetal.
First steep 30 seconds, very strong buttery with hints of floral and sugarcane. My husband tasted Nori as well.
Second steep 30 seconds, much the same as the first. With a nice long finish and almost a Steele flavor, not unpleasant. Then 40 second steep, 60, 60, 60, 2minute steep to finish. Very creamy and buttery to the end. With the light floral throughout.
First steep was actually heavier on the leaf than I realized (I measured my tea after steeping and rather than my vessel holding 5 oz. As I thought, it is only holding 4 oz. So the first infusion was 5g tea leaves to 4 oz. Water at 210 for 30 seconds after a 5 second rinse.
smoky with camphor and malt. Very smooth, heavy taste with a lovely long finish. My husband described the aroma as: “warm hay you want to lay down in”
Second infusion was 30 seconds and 5 oz. Water. A bit better balanced and not as thick. Felt medicinal although it doesn’t taste particularly medicinal. It is a very intense tea, so we need a break after only two steeps.
Back for steep number 3 @45 sec. More of the same, just very rich and malty. This tea is going to the top of my list to be shared with family. It’s hard for two of us to get through a session as it’s so rich. But it’s so delicious, we keep wanting to come back to it after a while.
Wasn’t sure what kind of tea I was in the mood for today so I gave my husband a choice between a few and he chose this one.
Prepared at 180 for about 1 min. Each steep. 5.5g to about 5 oz. Water in my celadon pot. This is a smooth, relaxed tea, with mild flavor, nothing super exciting or complicated. The seller says notes of roasted sweet potato which I can agree with although it’s very faint. My husband says it has a similar flavor to Lipton. Or is what Lipton is going for perhaps? I’m actually more excited to try it over ice later this afternoon. I have a feeling I may like it better cold.
I hesitate to write this as I’m so inexperienced, I’m struggling to identify just what it is that I am tasting and smelling. After reading some of the tasting notes here, I’m intimidated and acutely aware of how much I don’t know. My desire to have this useful place to log my experiences, and see others experiences, just slightly outweighs my self-conscious discomfort though, so here goes:
I was unsure how to prepare this tea as the seller suggests a very cool, long steep (160 at 2 minutes) but my research and limited experience leads me to want warmer, shorter steeps. I settled on 180 for 1 minute varying to 2 minutes.
I used 2.5g to 4 oz. Water.
First steep 1 minute and brought out green bean and butter. Very smooth with a lingering light finish. Subsequent infusions were 1, 1, 1:30, 1, 1, 1, 1;30, 1:45, 3:00,. By the end, I was drinking water. I noted a hint of honey in the 6th infusion that I hadn’t tasted before that. The honey came back when I poured all my leftovers into a tall glass and added ice. This makes a very nice (expensive) glass of iced tea. The honey flavor was strong enough that I would have thought this tea had honey added if I didn’t know better.
Just have fun writing about it—some of the reviews (not mine) are highly precise and scientific, and then there are the loosey-goosey, rambly, highly subjective story lines that just happen to include tea. (Guilty!)
Yeah we all started somewhere and there’s a really broad range of types of tasting notes! It’s all a learning process.
Well, some of my notes are scientific and precise, some are like a diary entries, some are just easy-going ones. But you will find your way! And tasting buds are developing as well as the detection of flavours.
Thanks everyone! I am experimenting with different types of notes trying to find what fits me best. I think I might land somewhere in the middle. I want to record the steep times etc, for future reference but also want to record how a tea makes me feel drinking it. I’m curious if it will evoke similar feelings again.
Prepared gong fu style (more like a hybrid as the manufacturers recommended steep time is 2 minutes). At 197 with a 1/1 ratio. (1 gram of tea to 1 oz. Of water). I had 5 grams to 5 oz. First steep 1:30, then 2 min., 1;30, and 2 min. I took a break after 4 steeps.
Very woodsy and roasty. I felt like I was transported to a toasty campfire. Lovely long finish with notes of fruit. I was expecting to taste toffee based on the sellers description. Maybe next time.
I prepared this tea as directed at 212 with a 1/1 ratio and steeped for 1 minute. My husband joined me and immediately exclaimed “it tastes just like bread! Who needs a snack when you have this tea.” Along with the initial notes of bread, I also tasted chocolate with the most amazing lingering finish that I can still taste as I write this. I’m fairly new to tea as is my husband but we both loved the smooth, dark, liquor this cake produces.
Flavors: Bread, Dark Chocolate
I don’t care for this tea. It does not taste like honey to me. Happy to trade the 4 oz. Unopened bag I have for something else.
I prepared this tea again, hoping to like it better. It does better with a rinse than without even though Red Blossom says their teas don’t need to be rinsed. It is still sharp and more astringent than I care for.
Dan congs can be difficult to brew. You need to dial in the correct leaf/water ratio, temperature, and steep time. What are your steeping parameters?
Hello Luckyme! Thanks for your comment and question. I’ve prepared it two different ways now. First, using about 4g of tea to about 4 oz. Water at 210f for 30 seconds, gong fu style. Several infusions and still can’t shake the sharpness. Then I tried to make it into a cold brew. I was sure that would mellow it but it still tastes bitter to me.
I guess I’ll jump in here real quick. First, LuckyMe is absolutely correct in stating that successfully brewing dancong oolongs depends on dialing in the leaf/water ratio, temperature, and steep times. They are notoriously difficult to dial in when brewing, and unlike many other teas, they are very finnicky and unforgiving. They tend to have a natural sharpness and intensity that can be overwhelming for those unfamiliar with them. One of the best known traditional brewing methods is to absolutely pack a brewing vessel with tea leaves and then start off with short infusions after a quick rinse to draw out those qualities at the beginning. I suppose the idea is that once one gets past the initial roughness, it is easier to appreciate the subtleties that such teas offer for the remainder of the brewing session. After initially struggling greatly with brewing dancong, I have somewhat standardized my brewing practices over time and now employ slight variations on what is the more or less one-size-fits-all approach that works with most teas for me. I know this may sound somewhat counterintuitive, but if I were you, I would consider increasing the amount of loose tea leaves you are using by roughly one or two grams while also lowering the water temperature by at least seven degrees. When I brew dancong oolongs, I usually go with about 6g of loose leaves in a 4fl gaiwan or teapot and keep my water temperature right at 203F. Definitely rinse the leaves prior to brewing. Give them a solid 10 second rinse. Also consider starting with shorter infusions. I usually start at about 5-7 seconds but have gone up to at least 10 in the past. If this approach does not yield desirable results, start adapting it. Consider reducing the amount of leaves you have been using by at least a gram (so, like 3g), reducing the water temperature (I have gotten good results out of brewing dancong around 194-195F), giving the rinse an extra second or two, and further adjusting steep times. The type of brewing vessel you use can also make a big difference. Even though dancong oolongs are temperamental and an acquired taste, they are well worth the time and effort it takes to develop an appreciation for them.
There’s not much else I can add to eastkyteaguy’s excellent response. His recommendations jive with my own experience (and challenges) brewing dan congs.
I use a similar leaf to water ratio as you – 1g per oz of water – but far shorter steep times. I start with a 5s rinse, followed by a 6s initial steep, and increase subsequent steeps by 4s. IMO, 30s is too long. With a such a high leaf to water ratio, you need to keep the infusions short to minimize bitterness.
Good luck and let us know how it goes!
Thank you both so much! This gives me hope that I can redeem this tea. I will continue to adjust the variables and try again. I’m fascinated that actually using more leaves might help. It makes perfect sense that 30 seconds is too long. I was blindly following the sellers instruction without thinking. I am excited to try again with this tea.
Sipdown. I found some fruit and minerality along with the nuts and bran sweetness (still wouldn’t call it honey) I’d noted before. This is lovely, but not necessarily my favorite style. It’s tempting to consider embarking on a journey to understand the fervor for dancongs… I first need to learn what exactly they are, though… so not today, wallet, not today.
Flavors: Fruity, Mineral, Roast Nuts
There are so many Dancongs, some greener, some roastier, some more oxidized. Liquidproust did a group buy of them, and Bitterleaf had a fairly representative collection of them. I used to really like them, but they tend to be more astringent and caffeine heavy. I have a lot of Dancongs that I’ve barely finished. They were my go to in winter and as a college student, but as a teacher, I get more green oolongs to chill me out.
I enjoy greener oolongs a bit more, too — a lot of your notes resonate with my preferences. Thanks for the touchpoints (touchpersons?) of Liquidproust and Bitterleaf, though — I’ll check out their notes as I start educating myself.
Bitterleaf is a company that sells a bunch of them, and they really specialize in Pu-Erh, but they’re non-puer is quite good and comparable to what you’d get from White2tea. Liquidproust used to be a member, but he mostly focuses his efforts on the Facebook Gong Fu cha groups and in his company.
Ahhhh, okay — thanks. I saw mention of LP’s discord a few days back, so I recognized his name (I tiptoed into the discussion boards but haven’t really made the leap yet… so much to do!).
I didn’t think much of this tea the first time I had it; I likely was expecting something much different with a name like “Honey Orchid” and let that color my impressions.
I didn’t take full notes on this session, but I especially was taken aback by the amazing roasty notes immediately coming off of the first steep, before I even closed my gaiwan. It almost smelled like nuts baking, their skins just beginning to turn dark brown and almost char.
The first two steeps were my favorite, with subsequent steeps fairly quickly dissipating into sticks and wood. But those first two steeps were full of bran flakes — like sitting with a bowl of cereal and experiencing the sweetness that creeps in as you chew each bite and release the natural sugars. I don’t get honey, but this robust bran flavor didn’t need it. Really lovely.
Flavors: Grain, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Sweet, Wheat
Sadly this tea is 1-2 years old and I believe it’s no longer in its prime. Still a very good tea but it’s time to finish it up (I have ~30g left).
6g in 150ml Chaozhou Hongni pot (which might explain why the aroma is more muted)
Wet leaf smells strongly sweet, fruit like grapes, honey peach and melon, florals, and a creamy fragrance that is not quite milk but maybe like a cantaloupe-flavoured soda / sugary milk drink?
1st infusion: 88˚C, 0:30
Liquor colour is almost white. Very light, not much flavour or sweetness coming through, slightly astringent. When cooled down it was significantly sweeter and balanced.
2nd infusion: 88˚C, 0:30
Slight grassiness and hay now. Also a bit of minerality like I imagine I’m drinking water from a sweet mountain spring. Sweet and long aftertaste on the tongue.
3rd infusion: 91˚C, 0:45
All that’s left is the florals, but damn they’re gorgeous. More astringency now, but it’s a lively dryness on the tongue, not unpleasant.
4th infusion: 95˚C, 1:00
Liquor is more a gorgeous pale gold colour now, but almost more white than yellow. Still lovely mouthfeel.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Hay, Melon, Peach, White Grapes