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Recent Tasting Notes
My craving for a highly oxidized Taiwanese red oolong came late this year. I remember drinking a bunch of it around Thanksgiving in 2018 while picking persimmons from my aunt’s tree. The tree was pruned heavily this year so it didn’t produce anywhere near 300 fruits and therefore she didn’t need my assistance with harvest.
I’ve never tasted longan, the fruit for which this tea is named. To me, this tea tastes of overripe persimmon with no astringency. I hit the leaf with boiling water and was greeted with a balance between its nectar-syrup like body, deep fruity-floral-spicy-cocoa aroma and tastes, and a lingering perfume in the mouth. I was able to get only 4 infusions in gongfu before I had to carry on with my day, so the following day I dumped the leaves in a jar for grandpa and it was still as delicious if not more so. Certainly a tea I’d consider purchasing again. Thanks, Togo!
Got this as a sample with my last Taiwan Sourcing order. This is a light and sweet oolong with gentle notes of dates, toffee, and caramel. Roasted plums and cookies appear as the flavor of the tea settles. Gongfu wasn’t all that impressive so I was content to grandpa steep this one. When cold brewed, it’s greener with honeysuckle and more mineral sweetness.
Flavors: Caramel, Dates, Honeysuckle, Plums, Toffee
[Spring 2018 harvest]
I got this tea as a free sample with my latest TS order and kept it sealed until today. I found it to be a very flavour focused tea with good complexity and a very long aftertaste, but lacking body.
The dry leaves exude aromas of baked apple, various flowers, cookie dough, and citrus fruits. The wet leaves have a meadow-like floral complexity and a much sweeter smell with notes of fenugreek, prickly pear, and popcorn.
The taste has a lot going on too. The profile is savoury, sour and floral. In the beginning, I get notes of fenugreek, grass, walnut skin, plant roots and a slightly metallic, sour finish. There are many other flavours appearing later, kumquat and cabbage to name a few. The aftertaste is also very floral, but much more sweet. One extra flavour I notice there is the one of coriander leaves.
Flavors: Apple, Cactus Flowers, Candied Apple, Citrus, Citrus Fruits, Cookie, Coriander, Floral, Flowers, Grass, Herbs, Metallic, Plants, Popcorn, Sour, Sweet, Vegetables, Walnut
Got this tea with Taiwan Sourcing intro pack. If you like Ruby 18, you’ll like this. Same menthol/minty taste. I found the Taiwan Sourcing brewing recommendations didn’t match this tea very well (3/3/4 min, 5g tea/100ml water) I had better luck when I did slightly shorter infusions, especially at the beginning (1/2/2/2 min) then finished it off with 3-5 min steeps.
A simple, light and refreshing daily drinker kind of oolong.
Spring 2017 harvest. Leaf aromas of generic fruitiness, red fruit, perfume, wood, brown sugar, osmanthus, light pine. Substantial liquor aroma. Tastes of dry grass, osmanthus, light fruitiness, clean minerality with citrus zest tingling. Buttery osmanthus and perfumey aftertaste that later becomes evident on the sip. Fairly smooth with some astringency. Maybe a bit old being Spring 2017 harvest; given another year, this would probably devolve into a perfume bomb, so drink fresh! Pretty red-brown oxidized single leaf mixed with green.
[5g, 100mL porcelain pot, 10s rinse followed by 7 steeps starting at 10s]
Flavors: Astringent, Brown Sugar, Butter, Citrus Zest, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Mineral, Osmanthus, Perfume, Pine, Plant Stems, Red Fruits, Tangy, Wood
SUMMARY: This is a very lovely well-balanced tea with a nectar-like viscocity. Despite the 80% oxidation, I brewed this at a lower temp, at a longer steep time, which really brought out the fruity flavors of this tea with hardly any astringency. After the first infusion, each steep was fairly consistent with the flavors until it started washing out. This would make a lovely cold brewed tea or brewed at a much lower temp for a longer steep time to bring out more of the fruit flavors.
HIGHLY recommended if you like your teas with a bit of fruit flavor.
I skipped the wash with this, and so glad i did.
First infusion: The tea broth is light yellow.
It’s flavors comprise of stone fruit with fruity sweetness. It’s got a very slighty plum-y flavor, but it feels like another fruit. Perhaps a hint of the longon nectar tea of which this is related? This liquid is viscous, smooth, with an extremely mild dryness on the tongue. It has a surprisngly internal cooling effect.
Second infusion: The second steep is an amber orange. It looks & tastes viscous. The sweet plum favors have really come out. The sweetness starts off sugary and morphs into a plum sweetness. The plum flavors persist even after I finish this infusion and while i brew my third.
Third infusion: This is plum nectar sweet, as advertised. There’s an extremley slight dryness in the mouth, followed by another plum aftertaste.
Fourth infusion: Bugger. I can’t remember how long I set the timer for on this infusion (2 or 3 minutes?). It still has the same plum nectar, but a slightly washed out version. I think I set the timer to 2 minutes.
5th Infusion: 3 minutes — The flavors are becoming slightly muted, and there’s only probably a few more steeps with this tea, but I’m still enjoying it!~
Tea amount: 5 grams
Times: 60s, 90s, 120s, ??, 180
Water: 190-194 deg F / 150ml
Flavors: Plums, Sugar
Thanks Togo for the swap :)
Have a song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIMKJ43TFLs
Spring 2018 harvest. Dry leaf has an aroma of malty molasses cookies with additions of baking spices and a fruitiness when warmed. Smells like a hearty banana bread, though light on the banana. Rinsed leaf aroma is dominantly woody. I can smell light florals not on the inhale but when I exhale. Drank the rinse — subtle spruce and malt. Cool in mouth, warm in chest. Throat is already tingling like a strong returning sweetness will come forward. Already an aftertaste of peach and both black and green plantains.
The tea doesn’t change much in character like other GABA oolong, which I consider a strength. Buttery, floral grape aroma. SIp hits the high tones with floral grapes. The liquor is oily and the flavors sit low, with a light malty spiced banana bread midtone, deep fruity undertone, minerals, a bit of vanilla, straw when cooled. In fact, the flavors, which are more aromatic than penetrating on the tongue, become more pronounced if the tea cools to somewhere around 160F. Tangy aftertaste like light, sweet lemon and profuse salivation, brown sugar returning sweetness. Later develops hints of baked bread and cream in the aftertaste. Final infusions end on nutty, woody impressions. Like other GABA oolong, this has great longevity. I liked that characteristics of this tea’s Alishan provenance were still discernable despite the GABA processing.
I also did a grandpa infusion with the remaining 2g for 8oz with 3 top-offs. It was even more mellow with a rock sugar like sweetness. It was honestly difficult to describe. Maybe like a salty, soft and buttery white sweet potato? Comforting. The one major difference with this preparation was a complete lack of that floral grape flavor and aroma.
I love GABA oolong teas. They’re generally accessible, mellow and sweet with no bitterness or astringency. They can’t be oversteeped and perform great as western, grandpa or gongfu infusions. So let me take this moment to 100% endorse GABA oolong to loose leaf newbies!
Drink GABA oolong!
Flavors: Baked Bread, Banana, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cinnamon, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Lemon, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Nutmeg, Nutty, Peach, Pine, Salty, Smooth, Straw, Sugar, Sweet Potatoes, Tangy, Vanilla, Wood
I’ve really enjoyed this tea.
Summary: This mild roast red oolong tea is tightly rolled and takes several steeps to open up completely. It is a semi-sweet tea that’s great as an after dinner tea or just anytime tea. It’s not an overly complex tea, but the flavors work well together.
Dry leaf smell: I catch whiffs of stone fruit and the associated sweetness.
Warm leaf: A stronger scent of stone fruit and honey.
I’ve had a couple of sessions with this tea. WATER: 150ml
Session 1: Time (seconds) 15, 20, 30, 40, 60, 80…; temp: 195-205 deg F
Session 2: Time – 30, 45, 60 @ 196 deg F) | 90s, 120s, 180s… @ 199-201 deg F
Wet leaves aroma: High notes of honey, florals, and stone fruit
Broth Aroma: Sweet potato
Color: The color of orange-flower honey. This remains fairly consistent.
The broth has a nectar-like consistency, like thinned honey. It’s not particularly viscous but does coat the tongue slightly. There’s an underlying astringency that dries out the tongue a tiny bit, but it’s never bitter. I get a mild tingling sensation in the tongue from the cha qi, and I did start to feel a bit in the head after the 4th steep.
Initial steeps brought out flavors of sweet potato, mild stone fruit, a touch of honey. As steeps progressed, there’s less fruit, less honey, and more sweet potato flavors. The tea has a short-to-medium clean finish to it that’s in keeping with the flavor profile. As I extended the steep times, I also increased the temperature. I managed to get a fair number of steeps out of this tea before the flavors began to wash out. For each session, I managed to get at least 6 steeps out of the 5 grams of tea.
Since there’s very little astringency to this tea, higher temps and longer brew times might bring out a different flavor profile. (A point to experiment with!)
Overall, this is a good tea, especially for the price point and the number of steeps you can get out of it. It’s not an overly complex tea, but the flavors are well-balanced and quite tasty. The sweetness comes from sweet potato/fruit flavor, so anyone who finds teas with fruity profiles too sweet might enjoy this a bit more.
Flavors: Honey, Stonefruits, Sweet Potatoes
This is a gorgeous bright sunshine yellow tea that reminds me of early summer.
The color is that of sunshine yellow as it moves through the day. The first infusion was a summer morning, 2nd infusion moved to a mid-morning yellow, then lightened up by the 4th & 5th infusion.
I brewed this gong-fu style, despite TS’s recommendation of brewing for a longer period of time. Start @ 20 seconds at 208 deg F, then increased 5-10-15 seconds per infusion
It smells of cream and light florals.
#1-2 infusion: Light floral notes of chrysanthemums. It’s a very bright team with a light cream & citrus aftertaste. It has a short-medium clean finish. There’s hardly any drying sensation. It has a nice light mouthfeel.
#3-4 infusion The aroma starts off citrus then finishes milky. This infusion starts off with a light astringency that I associate with most oolongs. It still has a lot of bright notes of florals, citrus…it has a nice light cha qi. It finishes with that nice creamy aftertaste.
It’s quite an enjoyable oolong for those days you want something bright, not too heavy, but a nice finish.
Flavors: Citrus, Creamy, Floral
First, I don’t know if this is Summer 2017. There’s nothing to indicate harvest time or year on my sample.
Second, I brewed this per their recommendations. 100ml-5-6 grams @boiling water temp, with steep times of 3 min/3min/4 min respectively.
1st brew: the aroma is of mossy wood but the flavor is bitter dark cocoa nibs — no sweetness just the bitterness of the nibs. There’s a mild astringency aftertaste and medium mouthfeel. Overall, it has a good medium mouthfeel and is very smooth.
2nd steep @3 min: I smell camphor and mossy wood. The flavor is a milder bitter note that evens out towards the end. There is a slight astringent finish but still a good viscous mouthfeel. The tea soup is very smooth and not harsh.
3rd steep @4 minutes. I had to reboil water for this steep. I am unsure if it’s the water temp (I suspect that the water temp might have been slightly higher this time around) or if it’s the 3rd but this one is the most balanced of all three brews. I still smell the camphor and mossy wood aroma, but the bitterness has softened as the astringent. The mouthfeel is still good but the flavors are balancing themselves out.
Overall, I’m on the fence about the tea. It’s a good tea but different from what I normally prefer in its tasting profile, but it’s very smooth and has a really good mouthfeel. Others might enjoy it better. I’m going to play with different brewstyles to see if it speaks to me more in other ways.
Reviewing Winter 2018 harvest. An old Southern tradition is to mash butter and sorghum molasses together with a fork until creamed and eat with buttermilk biscuits. The dry leaves of this Alishan reminded me of the smell and taste of buttered molasses. Once the leaves were wet, there was a definite fruity element to the tea. I could never quite put a name to the fruit. It was sort of like blackberry, sort of like black current, but not quite those. After the third infusion, I got a very distinctive smell or flavor of green banana peeling. If you’ve peeled back a green banana, it was that smell more so than the banana itself. As the infusions went on, it turned more into the sweet potato flavor we often get with black teas. Finally, this tea got fruiter again toward the end. That was a fun ride. I look forward to trying it again and seeing if I can detect any effects from the GABA in this tea. I was in a hurry to get out the door this session.
Flavors: Banana, Black Currant, Blackberry, Butter, Molasses, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Thick
After a visit to the doctor, I was informed there was a stomach bug going around, and that if anything, the white tea I had been drinking probably helped ease my symptoms. So, I went back on the tea last night. I had never had this type of oolong previously. I brewed this in a clay teapot. I found it to be one of the sweetest oolong teas I’ve experienced so far. The dry leaf smell had a nutty aroma that came out even more after it was in a heated teapot. I didn’t detect any burnt smells or notice any smokiness to the dry tea leaves that a reviewer had posted for a previous harvest. After a quick rinse and in further steepings, the wet leaves smelled fresh and green and never took on a vegetal, stewed spinach smell, which is a plus for me.
This is a delicate tea. The flavor is very delicious, but it is not strong and could be overwhelmed, so choose any food pairings wisely. I was using our well water, which has some mineral content, and it really worked great with this tea. I asked my wife to taste it, and she agreed that it was exceptionally sweet. It was sugary in the front of the mouth and on the teeth. I went through about 3/4 of a liter of water using a 70 ml teapot, so it went around 10 infusions and held up well. Interestingly to me, if I pushed the tea or kept the steeps short with hotter water, the strength changed, the liquor was darker, but it really did not change the flavor profile of the tea. This would be a good tea to serve with a bland meal, with a light dessert, or solo.
Flavors: Green, Nutty, Sugar, Sweet
[Winter 2017 harvest]
It might be because it’s more than one year old by now, but the aroma of this tea is very weak. It does kind of make up for it in the aftertaste, which is strong and interesting.
The flavours are mostly vegetal with light bitterness in early steeps and floral notes developing in later ones. There are notes of grass, dandelion flowers and spinach. The aftertaste is sweet, spicy and very comforting, definitely the highlight of the session for me. It induces a somewhat tingling sensation in the throat. The liquor texture is between silky and creamy, but not very thick.
Even though it’s not a bad tea at all, I cannot recommend it because of the high price.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFtRq6t3jOo (listening to her after the sublime concert last night)
Flavors: Creamy, Dandelion, Floral, Flowers, Grass, Spicy, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetables, Vegetal
This is a red oolong. I added the description from the YS website. It’s an interesting process to produce this tea. I’m having the light roasted version. When I opened the vacuum sealed bag, I took a sniff and didn’t smell much of anything. I let it air out for awhile and still not much smell in the dry leaf. It’s rolled very tightly and is very dry, so that’s probably why not much smell comes through. Each rolled leaf is about half the size of an M&M. Once it was placed into a heated Jianshui Zitao red clay teapot, the dry leaves released their aroma. This would be a fun blind tasting tea. I’ve never smelled a hibiscus, so I can’t comment on the Roselle Nectar notes. It did have a floral/fruity scent but it is also very much like a black tea in that it has some sweet potato and chocolate notes.
This is a tea to experience. It has some really interesting things going on. If you’ve ever had a Laoshan black tea, you know the dark chocolate brownie, sweet potato taste that comes through. It’s as if someone brewed a light roast fruity non-green-leaning oolong, and when no one was looking gave it a shot of Laoshan black tea. It’s a very unique experience. I love it. It’s a sweet tea. It has a good lasting aftertaste. No bitterness. There is a little astringency in the longer steeps, but not much. In the mouth, it has a lightness. It performed well with short steeps of a few seconds. I also pushed it out to about 2 minutes in a later steep, and had an interesting experience. The taste was similar, but there was a tingling sensation at the tip of the tongue and a sweetness. It was like having carbonated bubbles from Sprite dancing on the tip of my tongue. In the final steeps the sweet potato fades and is replaced by a sweeter taste that is similar to a yellow musky peach. The cooked tea leaves and tea liquor matched the photos posted.
This one is a winner! Quite a unique experience, and it won’t break the bank.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Floral, Fruity, Hibiscus, Peach, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
There are two versions of this tea available. One is a light roast, and the other is a run dry. Run dry is a refining process where the tea is roasted, but it is roasted so lightly over charcoal, it is more like a drying/refining step and imparts no smokiness or roasted taste to the tea, but is considered preferable to machine drying. It is described as being more gentle and preserving more of the more subtle elements in the tea. This method of processing was thought to be lost to time as most processing went to jade oolong in Taiwan, but Mr. Zhuan processed this old-school style, and the folks at Taiwan/Yunnan Sourcing have brought it to us. It is a tightly rolled. I went for the “run dry” version. This tea is not cheap, but I was highly curious after reading the backstory on the tea.
When smelling the dry leaves, I don’t get much citrus from it. Maybe it has lost some of that since it was produced. I tried really hard to detect it. Even looking for it and trying to force my nose to pick up anything citrus-like, I can’t get much. It would be like rubbing a lemon on a sheet of paper a month ago. That’s about how much citrus I detect. I then hit the leaves with water, and it smells a lot like stewed spinach. Hmm. That’s not a big plus for me. Just my personal preferences against this smell.
Tasting the tea, it reminded me of a milk oolong. Maybe I’m crazy. I don’t think it is supposed to taste like this. It was like oyster stew without the oysters—milky, buttery, and an Anxi-like green oolong taste. It is less umami/seaweed than many green Taiwanese oolongs I’ve had. I’m really questioning myself on this tea, because my experience seems so different from what I’ve read. The color of the tea liquor was bright yellow.
This one liked short steeps of a few seconds. It had some mild astringency no matter how I steeped it, but it did not like being pushed.
I’m glad I had a chance to try this. I wish I could have tried it sooner when it perhaps had more citrus notes. I drank through about 7 infusions of this. It just wasn’t for me. I’m not going to rate it, because I think it is a unique tea and hits some notes that just happen to not be my favorites.
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Flavors: Butter, Green Beans, Round , Salty, Sweet
Spring 2018 harvest.
This is a tea that I just could not get to taste right no matter how much I tried. Tried gongfu, grandpa, and western steeping and all I got was a very pale, tasteless liquor.
Although this is classified as a green tea, it looks and smells like an oolong with its balled up leaves and rich, buttery aroma. In a heated vessel, it emits a sweet, pastry-like aroma which turns to toasted nuts when the leaf is introduced to hot water.
The flavor though is a different story. The brewed tea is colorless and nearly tasteless with a vague vegetal flavor. It feels like drinking hot water. Upping the water temperature and steep times made it taste like russet potato skins. Unlike other GABA teas I’ve had, it doesn’t produce any feelings of calm or relaxation.
However cold brewing was the saving grace for this one and prevented me from throwing it out. When steeped overnight in the fridge, it transforms into a different tea – sweeter, more robust, with a fruity freshness. There’s a chestnut like nuttiness and sweet potato in the finish.
Flavors: Potato, Vegetal
The lone bright spot from my Taiwan Sourcing order. This is an excellent dong ding with a salted caramel and pumpernickel bread aroma and a subtle roast that brings out a crisp, light character. It starts with floral notes and then quickly transitions to a smooth toasted pecan flavor with a little fruitiness kicking in later. It’s a great tea for grandpa steeping. Never gets muddled or bitter as long as you don’t hit it with full boiling water.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Floral, Pecan, Toasty, Walnut