Taiwan Tea Crafts

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Recent Tasting Notes

84

I was in a mood for some medium roasted oolong while working this evening and this one seemed to fit the bill. However, I forgot that GABA teas can at times be incompatible with nontrivial cognitive processes. And so it happened that I zoned out (probably also thanks to the music I had playing at the time, see below) and entered some lucid dreams instead of reading about quantum information theory. Nevertheless, afterwards I drank a few shots of cold-brewed sheng (the 2016 Autumn Da Qing Gu Shu in particular) and became productive again fortunately.

What to say about this tea? It’s very nice, albeit a bit more roasted notes than I expected based on the dry leaf scent, which is fruity with notes of apple, quince, and narcissus. The wet leaves do showcase some deep charcoal aroma though, complemented by licorice, cumin, and more fruits.

The taste is very tart with a distinctive roasted pear flavour, light sweetness, and a dry wood backbone. The sourness, despite being strong, disappears fairly quickly and gives way to a comforting nutty aftertaste with a persistent sweetness. Mouthfeel is very velvety and soft, very good for a tea at this price point I’d say. Generally, the quality/price ratio is very good for this one.

Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntuC-VUNtDo

Flavors: Apple, Char, Fruity, Licorice, Narcissus, Nutty, Pear, Roasted, Smooth, Sour, Spices, Sweet, Tart, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
derk

I’ve been moving away from a lot of electronic music lately in everyday listening, but that song is hauntingly beautiful.

Togo

Yeah, the whole album is extremely atmospheric and hypnotic. It’s great both for daydreaming and as a soundtrack to (rainy night) city walks.

TJ Elite

I have this album on vinyl. Great choice!

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78

Steeped the last of what I had, 2g, as another western brew, this time at 185F.

I forgot about it while making a grocery list and piddling around. 10-15 minutes?

Thicker and quite viscous! Same amount of light floral bitterness, more pronounced butter and cream tastes. The peach and osmanthus aftertaste revealed in gongfu steeping showed up today but not nearly as prominent. Still very clean but the astringency remains. That’s my only issue with this tea, otherwise I’d put it somewhere in the mid-80s. Bumped from 75 to 78.

A case of less (less leaf, lower temperature, only 1 long western steep) is more?

Song pairing: Bill Withers — Lovely Day
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEeaS6fuUoA

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 8 min or more 2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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78

Clean, crisp and calming.

The rose petals in scent remind me of a purplish heirloom variety we have in the backyard. They have a sweet fruitiness to them almost like cherry with a hint of purple bitterness. Not so airy or perfumey but full-bodied with a hint of earthy spiciness. The rose petals of this blend impart a tinge of pink to the clear, brownish-yellow tea.

The dry jin xuan oolong leaf in aroma has delicate notes of sweet sugarcane and cream and vegetal snap peas. Its taste is subtle with dry grassiness and a generic vegetal quality. The minerality is particularly noticeable. There is biting astringency around my tonsils that I do find distracting at times. Light-bodied.

Fruity light cherry with stronger rose finish that moves to the sip with some floral bitterness as the session progresses. Sweet cream also in the finish shows up early and fades by the second steep.

The aftertaste is the prominent part of the experience, with an expansive and lingering fruity perfume of osmanthus and peach. Such a delight. Accompanying that is a touch of menthol to open the sinuses, which draws the aftertaste higher.

Decent jin xuan base tea with plenty of rose petals mixed in. The rose is delicate for me and not overwhelming. If your normal preparation is western style, I’d suggest brewing this one gongfu because that awesome aftertaste doesn’t seem to appear when prepared western.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Cherry, Cream, Dry Grass, Garden Peas, Menthol, Mineral, Osmanthus, Peach, Rose, Spicy, Sugarcane, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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79

I gotta say Taiwanese greens are the most aromatic green teas I’ve come across. Yet the actual drinking experience seldom lives up to the aroma. Such was the case with this tea. It had an incredible honeyed narcissus aroma but I got only the barest hint of flavor in the brewed tea. I had a little more success today following Togo’s steeping parameters.

The dry leaves emitted sweet aromas of maple syrup and apple cider when dropped into a heated shibo. Wet leaves had an interesting smell of eucalyptus and spice. First steep had a buttery, smooth vegetable soup flavor. Second steep was similar with a hint of juniper berries. The third steep had a cooling herbaceous taste mingled with sandalwood and a floral finish.

This was a mellow tea reminiscent of mao feng green tea. It had a sweet though indistinct vegetal flavor and a little tingle of spice. After trying a number of Taiwanese green teas, I’ve come to the conclusion that while interesting, they just don’t measure up to their counterparts from China and Japan. They seem more one-dimensional and lack that depth of flavor.

Flavors: Eucalyptus, Spices, Vegetable Broth

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 45 sec 2 g 2 OZ / 48 ML

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83

This is the 2017 winter harvest. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

Dry, these big green nuggets smell like heady flowers, green apples, and custard. I get orchids, honeysuckle, green apple, sweet corn, cream, and grass in the first steep. (What is it with corn showing up in high mountain oolongs lately?) The tea is sweet, silky, and slightly metallic, and has a persistent aftertaste. The next couple steeps add notes of spinach, herbs, and a hint of green apple. (But it’s mainly still about the corn.) The corn dissipates by steep five and the florals by steep seven or so, leading to a grassy, vegetal, faintly sweet end to the session.

This is a pretty standard Lishan with a substantial body and some interesting notes near the beginning of the session. It fades pretty quickly, which is a problem with many teas of this type. I usually don’t pay more for organic teas, but I’ll have to see whether TTC’s organic Lishan is worth the extra money.

Flavors: Corn Husk, Cream, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Metallic, Orchid, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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91

Here we are. Seems my new pattern is to review a few teas on Mondays, so howdy :)

Scroll down to TEATIME if you don’t care for life happenings.

I’ve been dog/housesitting for a coworker (so many acquaintances have been or will be going to Hawaii this summer, lucky ducks!). I didn’t take my kettle or teaware over to the house so recent mornings have involved drinking canned Guayakí yerba maté, or gasp! a K-Cup of coffee the other day. I came home this morning for a few sessions because I’m going through tea withdrawal.

The infection I’d had from March to June resurfaced last week, though since I knew what it was, I was able to get into the doctor for antibiotics the same day the infection kicked in severely. We’re euthanizing Housemate #1’s old, gay tomcat this evening at home. Housemate #2 is moving out in a month so the atmosphere will be very calm as autumn approaches, a setting enjoyable for hopefully increased gongfu sessions. Strange week. Despite all this, I feel a delightful yearning. Maybe it’s because I am okay, confident and rolling with the happenings. Also, somebody is hot on my tail.

TEATIME

Received as a sample from Togo. This swap package is never-ending.

5g, 100mL porcelain pot, 200F, rinse, medium length gongfu steep times starting at 20s. I didn’t keep track, maybe 8 infusions.

Dry leaf was small, uniform pebbles with scents of sweet almond and sugar cookie with vegetal, creamy and floral qualities. Warming the leaf opened up the aromas, with additions of pine, anise, gardenia, vanilla, cream, garden peas and a light, tangy high note.

The aroma was delicate and pleasing, floral, cookie, anise. The first thing I noticed was the body of the tea, thick and oily with substantial minerality leading to quick salivation. Like the aroma, the tastes were delicate. If the tea had not had such a pronounced mouthfeel, I would’ve felt this a dud. But the body had me wanting to swirl the tea around in my mouth and in that process, I was able to appreciate the subtlety of flavors. Pine, fresh and dry grass, butter, gardenia on the breeze, a golden apple and lemon mineral water brightness, fleeting hints of custard and spinach, and a few notes I’ve rarely if ever gotten in a high mountain oolong — wet rocks and fresh fungus on the forest floor. They unexpectedly fit the tea well.

The finish was cooling and complex with a throaty bite for the first few steeps and the aftertaste was distinctly green/golden apple skins. Spent leaf revealed pretty much all 3-leaves and a bud, very thin, yet it really expanded in my pot. The energy was CCC — calm, cool and collected.

Simply, a pleasant, perhaps understated tea. Delicate and subtle, never overbearingly green or floral, nor necessarily sweet. I feel like this is a Shanlinxi done right.

Song pairing: David Byrne and Brian Eno — Strange Overtones
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-L7IdUqaZxo
Been grooving to David Byrne and Talking Heads for a while.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Apple, Apple Skins, Butter, Cookie, Cream, Custard, Dry Grass, Freshly Cut Grass, Garden Peas, Gardenias, Lemon, Mineral, Mushrooms, Pine, Spinach, Thick, Vanilla, Wet Rocks

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

I am hoping that you will kick this thing quickly! You are still on the list.

derk

Thanks, my friend <3

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88

I am slowly but surely getting to the end of my first TTC order. This high mountain oolong is one of the most memorable ones.

The dry leaves smell of meadows and beeswax with a hint of clean decayed wood. The wet leaf aroma reminds me of the morning mist in a town surrounded by mountains. There are notes of custard, cream and various florals. I also notice a smell that is reminding me of a a very dark soil, rich in organic content, when wet.

The first infusion is quite tart and metallic tasting. The main flavours I notice are green apple and grass. The green apple one reappears in later infusions too, but it’s less prominent. It is complemented by other fruit notes like plantain and lime. The taste profile is a mix of umami, sweet and tart, with floral hints like nettle. The aftertaste is very long and pleasant. One of the stronger flavours I get there are lime leaves, but there are many others. It’s a fairly complex aftertaste overall.

Mouthfeel is slick, quite saliva like, but thicker. The finish is a little powdery. I really like the cha qi too, which is pleasant and elevating. It’s a good morning tea.

Flavors: banana, Cream, Custard, Decayed wood, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Green Apple, Lime, Metallic, petrichor, Plants, Pleasantly Sour, Sweet, Tart, Umami, Wet Earth

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 15 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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75

Here’s quite a green looking dong ding. It is tasty, but not very complex. The dominant aromas are those of roasted cocoa beans, wood, stonefruit pits and peat. The taste is bitter and has hints of custard, coffee and acorn. I liked the aftertaste more. It’s long, cooling and tart with notes of sweetcorn and wood. Texture is decent too, the liquor has a soft, silky mouthfeel which thickens as the tea cools down.

Flavors: Cocoa, Coffee, Custard, Oak wood, Peat, Roasted, Stonefruits, Tart, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 45 sec 8 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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85

Pardon me, I’m tea buzzed. Short note.

Tastes like sipping on toffee loaded with chopped dry-roasted almonds. Nice florality and pervasive fresh grassiness and plant stems. Osmanthus is subtle and puts a smile on my face. Bitterness and minerality keep it from becoming cloyingly sweet. Yes.

Longer gongfu steep times and no rinse because I didn’t want to wash away the osmanthus scenting.

Flavors: Almond, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Butterscotch, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Grass, Lettuce, Milk, Mineral, Nutty, Osmanthus, Peach, Plant Stems, Roasted nuts, Sweet, Toasty, Toffee, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
LuckyMe

I love this one too and reach for it more than my other flower scented teas. It’s a good one for grandpa steeping.

derk

I’ll have to try the remaining amount grandpa, then. I wonder what the oxidation percentage is of this tea. It’s so much more darkly sweet than other Jin Xuan I’ve had.

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Sadly, it looks like I drank my entire package of this without reviewing it. I probably have a backlogged note somewhere (one day, I’m probably going to post those, if only for posterity). The silver and pink packaging is very pretty, and it evokes thoughts of deliciousness, so I’m quite sure I thoroughly enjoyed every cup of this tea that I drank. I probably travel-mugged it a lot, too.

(Sorry for these random note-really-notes; I’m working on tea stash organization and recording things I’ve finished off if I know I have done so.)

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81

Sipdown! 222/365!

A whole bag of this and no note/review. Not surprising, I suppose. I inventoried my straight teas (the majority of them) a couple nights ago, and pulled out a bunch of 1-cup samples or badly stored teas to drink down quickly. This was one of em.

I didn’t honestly pay too much attention as I was drinking this, but I found it to be fairly flavourful and enjoyable – the first infusion (1 minute) was light and toasty, the second infusion (longer) was verging on syrupy, and had a delicious gui fei-type sweetness that I really enjoyed, along with more prominent “baked” flavours. Rather good. I’m looking forward to a couple more infusions tonight, before the leaves are done!

Definitely one of the better roasted/baked oolongs I’ve had.

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83

Curious concept, a GABA oolong cake.

Dry leaf aromas of violet (strongest), red grapes, brown sugar. Warmed and rinsed leaf present baked bread, buttery grape jelly, violet, baked cherries and berries, fresh blueberry, orchid, brown toast, wood.

Brewed 3 ways:

1) Gongfu. Zee best. 5g, 100mL porcelain teapot, 200F, great longevity.

Thick and oily, coats the whole mouth. Tasted like cinnamon raisin brown toast, highly mineral plus salivation, tangy, ridiculously smooth. Consistent in character until the end. Later turns nutty and woody, a bit salty with a light bite in the throat. Liquor develops a neat purple hue. Very content energy. Rating: 87

2) Grandpa. I like. 2g, 8oz, 200F, 5! top-offs.

Thick, full-bodied, roasty-toasty, floral grape, raisin, wood, sweet lemon tartness, still lots of salivation. Leads into dried fruit flavors of sour cherries and berries. Rating 85.

3) Thermos. Basically stewed about 9 hours. 2.5g, 20oz, 200F.

Tastes like a highly mineral shou. Toasty, thick, salty-umami, sometimes strong notes of rye. Not bad. Rating 77.

Average: 83

Maybe worth buying a small cake for Sheetz und Kegels. I mean, I haven’t seen a GABA cake around. This is an opportunity to see how it holds up over the long term. What’s the purpose? Ease of storage like a shou cake? It’s already highly oxidized and there aren’t strong roast notes so I doubt it would transform much. Would make an excellent fall/winter tea.

Song pairing, I’m going to refrain from linking but it’s Milli Vanilli — Girl You Know It’s True
Lord, why.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Berries, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Butter, Cherry, Dried Fruit, Floral, Grapes, Jam, Lemon, Mineral, Nutty, Orchid, Raisins, Rye, Salty, Smooth, Tangy, Thick, Toasty, Umami, Violet, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C
Kittenna

This is intriguing! I will not go look at TTC’s site….

LuckyMe

Ah, I haven’t heard that song in ages. Milli Vanilli used to be a guilty pleasure. I have a thing for one hit wonders.

tea-sipper

Awesome experimental tasting note and interesting flavors!

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77

Really? I haven’t rated this before?

I iced a cup of this a day or so ago, and while it was okay, I really think the roasty chocolate profile is what I want in my straight iced blacks, and that’s not what this tea has. It’s more along the malty/bready lines. Still quite a flavourful tea, but not my favourite profile, as I want more chocolate, and more roasty toastiness.

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80

This was a fairly standard green tea. It had some explosive baozhong like aromas in the bag but after resting for a bit, it settled into a typical green bean flavor. There were some light spinach notes, a hint of cream, and a little fruitiness along the way but otherwise it was generic tasting. Not a whole lot of body or depth in the way of flavor. It wasn’t bad or off-tasting, just didn’t have any real character to it.

Taiwan produces some excellent oolongs but in my experience, Taiwanese greens are lacking and don’t really measure up to their counterparts from mainland China and Japan. I’ve got another green tea sample from Taiwan Tea Crafts so here’s hoping it breaks the mold and proves me wrong.

Flavors: Fruity, Green Beans, Spinach, Zucchini

Ubacat

Did you get in a new order from Taiwan Tea Crafts? I see they had a sale on and was going to take advantage of it but 6 teas were too much for me. I was also waiting on about 3 other teas that are my favs before I place an order. They are taking forever to get some of their 2019 teas in.

LuckyMe

This was actually from an earlier order. Yeah the 2019 teas have been in low supply everywhere, likely due to the bad weather in Taiwan which affected the spring harvest. I usually just order samples from TTC to meet the $25 free shipping threshold. $60 is way too much tea for me as well. They also sold out of wenshan baozhong which is one of my must haves. I ended up ordering my spring oolongs from Mountain Stream Teas and Tea from Taiwan.

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93

This is the most forward Red Jade white I’ve had to date.

It pairs wonderfully with crispy oatmeal raisin cookies.

Dry leaf: aromas of tomato leaf, cooked tomatoes and greens, lemon, herbs, raisins, malt, brown sugar, wintergreen, black cherry. The leaf is large, dark and hearty — no crumbling thin leaf here.

Wet leaf: clearing and piercing wintergreen note grounded by an umami undertone like stewed vegetables.

Liquor aroma: wintergreen, cinnamon, straw.

Tastes: A backbone of straw with headiness of wintergreen, spiciness of cinnamon oil, fruitiness of black cherry, tartness of blood orange (like there is some raspberry kick), highly mineral, some toastiness and teasings of tropical fruits. Moves to baked bread, butter, popcorn, a light herbal licorice sweetness, malt, plants stems and banana leaf.
Brown sugar returning sweetness is not coy.

Body/mouthfeel: thick and oily moving to thin and rough then back to thick and brothy. Salivating, almost drooling. Of course cooling in the mouth and chest with that menthol/wintergreen/herbs but warming in the body like hot straw and cinnamon. I feel like a sheer white curtain was draped over my eyes, relaxed.

Awesome tea. Aromatic, flavorful and engaging. Somehow what seems like chaos in tea is reigned momentarily.

Song pairing: The Comet is Coming — Summon the Fire
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XsEgNvYiIE (headphones, loud.)

[5g, 100mL porcelain teapot, 195+ F, no rinse, great longevity for a white tea]

Flavors: Baked Bread, Blood orange, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Herbs, Lemon, Licorice, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Plant Stems, Popcorn, Raisins, Smooth, Straw, Tart, Thick, Toast, Tropical, Umami, Vegetables

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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All I had of this tea was a 6g sample from Togo and I managed to oversteep it a few times because the sedating energy of the tea hit me hard. After having good results from the extended steeps, I think this tea begs for longer infusions. The energy commands it. I had to take a long break after the second steep because my butt was glued to this chair. Even coming back to the leaf after another break for a shower, it’s kicking my ass again. I’m typing with one eye open -_O

Dry leaf smells like flowers such as orchid, sweet cream, darker nuts like pecan or hazelnut, caramel and a piercing quality that I hesitate to call vinegar?

Teapot time. 6g, 100mL clay, 205F, rinse plus 9 steeps, 2 of which were much longer than expected.

Warmed leaf smells of brown toast, caramel, vinegar, flowers, nuts and wet rocks. Rinsed leaf presents aromas of roast, almost burnt caramel, flowers, roasted nuts, undefined vegetal quality like plant stems, wood, umami, and another hesitant descriptor: gasoline? Dang, I’m having difficulty with this tea. The tea is smooth and nutty on the sip, quickly blooming into a bouquet of flowers, caramel, moderate toastiness and light minerals. It finishes dry with a long floral aftertaste.

This tea is complex and unfolds like a pop-up book with the second steep. Toasty caramel, chocolate, floral aroma. A little bitter on the sip. Nutty, dry roasted almond, caramel and peanut/shell, always a floral high note the lingers, impressions of cream and toffee. Something marine and metallic on the salivary glands. Finishes with banana leaf which later turns to dried peach and peach skin. Sometime in this session I sniff the leaf and it’s chocolate. The session ends on a bright note, like an impression of sunny and tart peach-orange with a light creme brûlée aftertaste. The florals never relent. I’m tired and finding it difficult to keep up with this tea’s robust yet fleeting nature.

Having a hard time coming to a conclusion. Big picture, it reminds me of a medium-dark roasted Taiwanese dong ding crossed with a Wuyi qi lan rock oolong and some Muzha tieguanyin with the couch-lock and mind-numbing qualities of indica cannabis. Leaving unrated for now.

Flavors: Almond, Brown Toast, Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Chocolate, Coffee, Cream, Custard, Drying, Floral, Flowers, Hazelnut, Marine, Metallic, Mineral, Nuts, Nutty, Orange, Orchid, Peanut, Pecan, Plant Stems, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Smooth, Sweet, Tart, Toasty, Umami, Vinegar, Wet Rocks, Wood

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

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70

Now here’s a good example of a tea that’s all aroma and no flavor. I was super excited when I opened the bag and got punched in the face with intense perfume florals and tropical fruit. However the brewed tea was a different story. This is the mildest baozhong I’ve ever tasted, to put it politely. It has a very subtle, barely there flavor. Mostly vegetal throughout with faint hints here and there of jasmine, sweet pea, and violets.

This was my second time having a baozhong oolong from Baguashan and it just doesn’t hold a candle to the more prestigious Wenshan Baozhong. It’s got explosive aromas but tastes washed out. This is nearly half the price of Baozhong from Wenshan however as with most things, you get what you pay for. Hard pass on this one.

Flavors: Floral, Peas, Vegetal

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 77 ML

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84

I bought 25 g of this tea, along with two others from the Shan Lin Xi area, in the winter of 2017, and thanks to vacuum sealing, it’s still fresh. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry leaves smell like honey, custard, and flowers. The first steep offers notes of vanilla, custard, sugarcane, grass, honey, apple, honeysuckle, and other florals. As might be expected, it’s quite sweet. Citrus and orange blossom notes emerge in the next couple rounds. By steep five, the tea becomes more vegetal, although the honey and floral sweetness persist for the next few steeps.

This started off with a profusion of flavours, but faded quickly. If only these oolongs would last longer!

Flavors: Apple, Citrus, Custard, Floral, Grass, Honey, Honeysuckle, Orange Blossom, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
LuckyMe

Yeah I wish these high mountain teas wouldn’t peak so soon, considering how expensive they can sometimes be. Roasted oolongs seem to last longer than their greener counterparts.

Leafhopper

I also wish I didn’t have to drink all the subpar steeps after the first 4-5 to get my money’s worth!

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89

This is the last tea review from my April backlog. I figured I would go ahead and post it while I was still sitting at my computer. It seems that the number of aged Qing Xin oolongs offered by vendors of Taiwanese tea has been growing in recent years. Aside from this tea, I have seen quite a few others on the market with production dates ranging from the early 1990s to the mid-late 2000s. Buying aged oolongs is always a crapshoot for me. I’m not huge on them, and quite frankly, quality is often variable. I was not expecting much out of this one, largely because the previous reviewers were not enamored with it, but I have to say that it pleasantly surprised me. As aged Taiwanese oolongs go, this was actually quite pleasant and drinkable.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cedar, pine, plum, peach, and raisin. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted almond, orchid, pear, and straw. The first infusion brought out aromas of coconut, pineapple, and vanilla. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cedar, pine, coconut, vanilla, pineapple, straw, roasted almond, orchid, and peach that were backed by hints of mango, papaya, caramel, and some sort of melon. The subsequent infusions introduced olive, mango, leather, nutmeg, cherry, papaya, caramel, apple, white grape, and cantaloupe aromas. Impressions of minerals, nutmeg, leather, fennel, cinnamon, olive, cherry, apple, and white grape emerged in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging notes of pear and plum and more immediate and prevalent impressions of mango, papaya, and caramel. The melon notes also took shape as I noted a distinct cantaloupe impression in the mouth. As the tea faded, I began to primarily note mineral, mango, peach, pear, roasted almond, plum, cherry, and vanilla impressions that were underscored by hints of nutmeg, fennel, leather, papaya, cedar, pine, apple, and cantaloupe.

Honestly, this struck me as being a very nice tea. I’m not sure what other reviewers found to be objectionable about it. I was especially impressed by the vibrancy of its aromas and flavors. One does not generally find aged oolongs that are so fruity and sweet. My only real quibble was that the texture of the tea liquor was a bit grainy for my tastes, but other than that, this was a very nice aged oolong.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Cantaloupe, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Coconut, Fennel, Fruity, Leather, Mango, Mineral, Nutmeg, Olives, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Pine, Pineapple, Plums, Raisins, Straw, Vanilla, White Grapes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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33

Here is one of the last two reviews I had left in my April backlog. I received this tea back in 2017 as part of TTC’s Aged Tea Sampler. I put off trying it for so long simply because it was already old, so there was no need to rush with it. Honestly, I’m glad I put it off as long as I did because I hate posting negative reviews, and well, there was no way I could give this tea a good one.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose tea leaf and ginseng blend in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was followed by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea and ginseng blend emitted powerful aromas of earth, raisin, wood, mushroom, old paper, and ginseng. After the rinse, I picked up aromas of ash, charcoal, and caramel. The first infusion did not add any new aromas, but the previously noted aromas grew so powerful that they burned my nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented strong notes of earth, wood, old paper, mushroom, charcoal, ash, and ginseng that were balanced by subtler impressions of cream, vanilla, raisin, and caramel. I also detected a little chocolate after each swallow. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of chocolate and tobacco. Stronger and more immediate chocolate notes appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of blackberry, tobacco, and minerals. There were also some hints of black cherry here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, old paper, mushroom, earth, ginseng, and wood that were underscored by hints of blackberry, black cherry, ash, vanilla, and tobacco.

God, this was rough stuff! Some of the aromas and flavors were reminiscent of a very earthy shu pu’erh but much stronger, more forceful, and far more unpleasant than even some of the roughest, cheapest shu. The texture of the tea liquor was ashy and gritty. It was very hard to drink. This was also a persistent, durable tea that did not want to give up the ghost during my review session. I can’t say that I hated everything about it as I did like some of the sweeter and fruitier characteristics this tea displayed, but still, I did not enjoy drinking this tea much at all. I cannot say that I would recommend it to anyone aside from fans of very earthy shu.

Flavors: Ash, Ash, Blackberry, Blackberry, Caramel, Caramel, Char, Char, Cherry, Cherry, Chocolate, Chocolate, Cream, Cream, Earth, Earth, Herbaceous, Herbaceous, Mineral, Mineral, Mushrooms, Mushrooms, Paper, Paper, Raisins, Raisins, Tobacco, Tobacco, Vanilla, Vanilla, Wood, Wood

Preparation
7 min, 0 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Martin Bednář

What a oldie

ashmanra

Oh dear!

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85

I haven’t experienced much tea (any?) from Taiwan Tea Craft, but I’ve ordered their teawares a few times over the years. When I first saw the ash glazed “genie” pot with the circle handle a few years ago, I had to have that. Their little “Pocket” $35 clays pots are a nice value. I think Oolong Owl reviewed some of those little pots awhile back. In my last teaware order, I decided to show them some love and try their tea. I enjoyed this Dong Ding. The dry leaf smell had some roasted nuttiness and some fruity smell, as well. Wet leaf was very fruity. I went for about 8 sessions with this tea and it held up well for me. I was having my tea during a meeting, and there were some longer breaks between sessions, so I would heat the water back up, and it seemed to do better with just off the boil water in later steepings. I may have added a touch of bitter that way, but I don’t mind a little bitterness if it brings out stronger flavors. I prepared this in the red Pocket Duo Zhi shaped pot from TTCs. Pour was great on that little pot. I felt some caffeine buzz shortly after consuming this tea.

Flavors: Fruity, Nutty, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 80 ML
LuckyMe

I have a bunch of teaware from them too. I use the red Xi Shi for black tea and the purple pear-shaped pot for green oolongs. Their clay teapots are great alternative to expensive Yi Xings.

derk

After reading a lot of LuckyMe’s reviews for TTC, I finally placed an order for tea and teaware. Can’t speak much about their tea since I’ve only had one so far but I do love the 2 pots and a cup I ordered. The black clay bell-shaped pot I use for heicha and the everyday flat porcelain pot for anything I want. I feel like they were priced fairly. The cup on the other hand was a splurge but its beauty was worth the price.

HaChaChaCha

I also bought a Master Chen’s Pocket Purple Clay Shui Ping Teapot. It’s 80ml. It seems to be fired a little higher than the $35 pots and the finish is a little nicer. However, I think the $35 ones get you 95% of the way to the $85 and $99 ones.

HaChaChaCha

I commissioned a custom tea set from an amazing potter in Japan. I’m working on setting up a new Instagram account for just tea. I’ll post a pic of the set on IG and reference it soon. It’s a very cool treatment done on the clay.

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82

I think this is the first time I’ve had a pre-Spring harvest tea so I have nothing to compare it to. Long, dark green delicate tendrils with a few silvery accents that smell sweet, fruity, lightly vegetal and beany, alpine.

I enjoyed this green tea most when prepared gongfu. Western was also nice, of course less nuanced, but grandpa-style was a nuisance because most of the leaves do not sink.

Gone gaiwan [6g, 150mL glass gaiwan, 175F, flash rinse]

Warmed leaf had aromas of creamy artichoke, sugarcane, sugar cookie, and a fruity tone. Wet leaf smelled mostly of sugarcane and seaweed. First in a series of very short steeps were vegetal with lightly creamy artichoke, soybean and grass, and a fructose-like sweetness. Thick mouthfeel on the sip transitioned into a highly mineral, almost salty liquor that was lightly drying and left a bit of a rough texture on the tongue. Lemon appeared with salivation on the swallow. Very light floral almond aftertaste. With the third steep at only 12 seconds, some summer squash and fir came out, leaving a cooling mouthfeel. Sugarcane returning sweetness. By the fourth steep I was breathing clearly. Fifth led with fir and became very cooling on the swallow, ending with a light lemongrass aftertaste. Felt pretty mellow by that point and didn’t keep track of further infusions.

Western [2.5g, 8oz, 175F, 2 steeps] was overall a similar experience with creamy artichoke, lemongrass, soybean, and high minerality. Less noticeable fir-cooling. The aroma is light, so I recommend breathing in while taking a sip to meld with the light and clean flavors. I chewed on some of the robust and healthy spent leaf and the vague apricot fruitiness I smelled in the dry leaf came out in the mouth.

It’s a very clean and light tea with the leaf amounts I brewed. Oversteeping does not produce any bitterness which made it nice for grandpa style brewing but again, the leaves float. Tasty tea :)

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Artichoke, Cookie, Cream, Drying, Fir, Floral, Freshly Cut Grass, Lemon, Lemongrass, Mineral, Salty, Seaweed, Soybean, Sugarcane, Vegetal, Zucchini

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
LuckyMe

I ordered this one too. The flavor profile you described sounds really interesting…can’t wait to try it.

derk

I’m curious what you think since greens seem to be your thing.

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90

The first time I opened the package, a few days ago, the dry leaves had a strong, layered fragrance with notes of steamed milk, nuts, freshly cut grass and banana. Today, I would add stewed tomatoes and coconut to the list. The complexity of aromas is impressive and it continues to be so throughout the session. From the wet leaves I get aromas of chicory, spring onion, rocket, pancakes, melon, fermented fruits and honey.

The rinse is very crisp and lively with a floral sweetness, a light citrus note and flavours akin to milk and white grapes. In later infusions, the taste becomes more grassy and metallic with a sour finish. It is delicious, but not as complex as the fragrance I’d say. One extra flavour I notice is that of almonds.

The aftertaste is strong, long-lasting and well-defined, meaning that its characteristics don’t evolve too much. The main notes are those of flowers and sugarcane, but I also notice some reminiscent of lemon ice cream for example. It is dry both in the mouth and the throat and has a slightly numbing quality to it. Mouthfeel of the liquor is creamy, thick and drying especially on the sides of the mouth.

Flavors: Almond, banana, Citrus, Coconut, Creamy, Drying, Floral, Flowers, Freshly Cut Grass, Grass, Green, Honey, Lemon, Metallic, Milk, Nuts, Pleasantly Sour, Stewed Fruits, Sugar, Sugarcane, Thick, Vegetables, Vegetal, White Grapes

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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90

Dry leaves smell like goji berries and reminds me of the smell in zoo. Hitting the tea with hot water lets the floral aromas loose to complement the fruity ones. Now that’s a beautiful fragrance!

My experience with oriental beauty oolongs is very limited so I cannot make too many concrete comparisons. However, it does remind me a little bit of the Alishan Transitional Oolong from TS, which I like a lot. One thing is for sure, this is a lovely tea to drink. The taste profile is what I would expect from such tea – thick, sweet, floral, honey, fermented fruits – and it’s exactly what I was craving today. What left the most impression on me is the strong, yet balanced flavour, silky smooth mouthfeel and most of all the incredible aftertaste. It is very sweet, fragrant and floral with a remarkable complexity. I feel like in a tropical glasshouse of a botanic garden with an abundance of flowers.

Flavors: Alcohol, Dry Grass, Floral, Flowers, Fruit Tree Flowers, Fruity, Goji, Honey, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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