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Recent Tasting Notes
[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
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
Meh, yet another let-down from my Taiwan Sourcing order. So far I’m 0 for 3 with their green oolongs. All of the ones I’ve tried have been incredibly underwhelming. This one has a flat, nondescript oolong flavor. It’s brothy and mostly vegetal with a touch of green apple. There is a lot of broken leaf and dust in the bag leading to messy and uneven infusions. It only goes for about 4-5 steeps. Pretty disappointing overall.
Flavors: Apple, Broth, Sour, Vegetal
Arrgghhh, I hate to write this review but there are few things more aggravating than opening a brand new packet of tea only to discover that it has gone stale. Shan Lin Xi rarely lets me down and I’m sure this one was good when fresh, but after a few steeps I could tell something about it was off.
The smell was promising enough. Out the bag, it smelled buttery sweet with a touch of vegetation. A rinse brought out fruity aromas of pear and banana along with a hint of marzipan. The brewed tea though was a different story. It tasted vegetal and musty like old books. There was none of the characteristic sweetness or minerality of oolong. The taste was more akin to a green tea. I’ve had two sessions with this tea and both times I gave up and ended up chucking it.
There’s a difference between a tea that doesn’t taste good and one that’s lost freshness. This belongs to the latter category. It’s the second tea from my Taiwan Sourcing order to suffer from this problem leading me to believe there’s a packaging issue. I noticed the pouches I’ve opened so far were missing those oxygen absorbing packets. These little things are critical to removing humidity and preventing spoilage, especially with green oolongs which don’t hold up as well as their roasted counterparts. I can always detect staleness in unroasted oolong that’s not vacuum sealed and/or doesn’t have the oxygen absorber inside.
I seldom throw out tea, especially costly ones, but sadly this one is going to hit the bin because it’s that bad.
Flavors: Musty, Vegetal
Winter 2017 harvest.
Forgettable is how I would describe this tea. I was excited by the flowery description on the website and positive reviews, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to the hype. It’s fairly vegetal throughout with some honeyed notes and a mouthfeel on the thin side. By playing with the brewing parameters, I did manage to coax out some florals and little buttery flavor. It peaked around the 3rd steep and then tasted like an average green oolong.
For a high mountain tea, it had little to no depth of flavor. I don’t know if something was lost with age or what, but overall it tasted mediocre and kinda bland to me.
Dry leaves appearance – in between modern, bright green TGY and typical roasted ball-rolled oolongs that I’ve had, though it means closer to the former. There is a beautiful orangey-red tint.
Dry leaves smell – right away, I got the overpowering scent of Rice Krispies right after they’ve had milk poured over them. It reminds me of my bad childhood breakfasts lol. Strangely enough, I also got a slight, slight hint of sun-dried tomatoes.
Wet leaf smell – Rice Krispies again, but this time the milkiness is much more pronounced and there is a lovely undertone of spring wildflowers; there was also a slight hint of cacao from the second infusion onwards
Liquor – a bright yellow on the first infusion that gradually evolved into a lovely sunset orange as the session progressed
Texture – somewhat thin in the mouth, but extremely soft and creamy
Taste – the taste really translates to the smell on this one, and I can barely sense anything else, besides a sweetness as though I added sugar to the milk in the Rice Krispies. The taste takes me right back to drinking the last bit of sugary milk from the bowl. This is an interesting one.
Empty cup – a light creamed corn scent like good Ali Shan, but not quite as potent and obvious
Mouth finish – very, very lubricating; as soon as the sip goes down, the milkiness explodes on the palate and leaves a lingering sweetness
Wet leaves – beautiful and full rusty-red leaves that look thin and delicate, but are actually quite hardy. They almost feel like wax paper between the fingers.
Body feel – a strong, grounding qi that came on midway through the second cup; very calming and centering; a good tea to drink if you need to take a step back from life and reset yourself.
This tea is right up my alley; in fact, it may even be my favourite ball-rolled oolong I’ve ever tried – and that’s saying a lot. Though it’s a pretty straightforward tea that doesn’t evolve too much throughout the session, every aspect of it is so enjoyable that I don’t mind at all. I’m kicking myself for only getting 100g of it.
I received a sample of Mingjian Organic #18 “Red Lion” with my oolong order.
Brewed in a large gaiwan I immediately noticed a fresh minty aroma and taste.
I have had other Ruby #18 teas but this was the first time I experienced this. Perhaps my taste buds were off before, who knows but finally …
Usually I buy Chinese blacks (reds) but enjoyed this fresh clean Mingjian Ruby #18 enough that I will place an order.
First I want to try their Yuchi Organic Ruby 18 “Agate Pond”