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Recent Tasting Notes
I almost wonder if the sample I received which prompted me to buy a cake, is different from the cake I received. I really enjoyed the subtleties of this tea when sampling, but found it lacking when I got a cake. Perhaps I need a few more sessions. It was MUCH greener and raw than a tea of this age should be, although it was fairly brown with oxidation so it looked to be the correct age as claimed. In 2019, this tea is 16 years old, but it drinks more like a 5-8 year old sheng. It was raw on the stomach, not much chaqi, no lingering aftertaste, vegetal flavor, and quite honestly not worth the cost of entry. Perhaps I need to adjust parameters a bit when brewing, but can’t figure out why sample and cake are so different. Based on what I just drank, I would NOT buy a cake of this. Many more teas that are much cheaper, that are much better. Right now this is for sale around $550/500g cake. Makes me wonder if prices are arbitrarily attached to age? This isn’t worth half that price TBH.
Ok now that I have procured a kilo of this stuff I feel safe to review it. This is by far the best tea I’ve had in the buck a gram range and competes with stuff 3x that. For starters the super clean Taipei dry storage has preserved a lot of the top notes while making this tea taste much younger than it really is. In fact an Yiwu stored 2012 Yibang I recently had tastes much more aged. The soup is copper colored and exudes notes of cedar, orange blossoms and sandalwood with a touch of caramel and plum. No mushroomy decayed forest notes or dankness. This tea likes to be pushed in terms of amount of tea per ml, temp and steeping times. I’ve found it more satisfying to do fewer and longer steeps as it adds to the oily texture and bigger huigans. It is difficult to make this tea bitter. This tea reminds me of the 2013 Mansong from Yiwu Mountain tea (which I’ve only had once dt the $5g pricetag) in terms of flavor and qi. Oh yeah the qi. That’s the real kicker with this tea. The blissful, meditative full body qi of this tea is better than anything I’ve had for under $3g. I can’t recommend this tea enough. Another aged Yiwu I love (not listed here) is the 2000 Yiwu from EOT. It displays much more aged flavors (although very clean with no dankness) and much fuller bodied but less qi. I highly recommend trying this tea before it sells out. BTW this seller is a collector of amazing teas and has some beautifully aged 90s Menghai teas as well as an outstanding assortment of oolongs. His baozhongs and high mountain oolongs are incredible. The shipping is super fast too. I got my last order in 5 days! From Taiwan to USA
Wow! Incredible. Pleasant tea from start to finish, this Ali Shan Oolong has all the complexity one could wish for in a tea so highly regarded. Honestly, the different tastes in this tea’s bouquet are so hard to pin down, so perfectly balanced and “blended,” that words escape any description. Yet, to approximate, the memory that comes to mind is a gentle kiss on a Spring morning. There is a dew-like quality to this oolong, something between tulips and rosewater. A blessing beyond explanation.
Flavors: Floral, Geranium, Orchid, Rose
Honestly, I never perfected this particular one. However, it does occupy an especially pleasant location in the range of tastes, being at once delicately balanced between being astringent, medium-light bodied, and yet lightly floral.
Flavors: Astringent, Mineral, Vegetal, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks
A very energetic Oolong. Light sweetness, light bitterness, and soft vegetable notes. It starts off a bit thin but then gets better and better. Also works as a nice fresh cold brew.
Read the whole review on my blog if you like:
Flavors: Bitter, Lemon, Mint, Sweet, Vegetables, Zucchini
A fresh herbal Oolong with a nice green liquor. The leaves were obciously perfectly handled in production, super intact, attached to the stems and evenly oxidized (not very much though). I found a maybe confusing banana aroma on the dry leaves. The brew tastes like vegetables, herbal but not grassy, I got orange juice and a bit of sesame in the end.
Read the whole thing and look at some pictures on my blog:
Flavors: banana, Orange, Vegetables
Spring 2012 Hung Shui Oolong from Yiguang is light oxidized and has a medium roast. Hung Shui, as Stéphane Erler explained it, is the form of tea production following the original Dong Ding approach. The ball-shaped rolled leaves unfold to show their careful hand-picking process, almost entirely consisting of intact “two leaves and a bud”-constellations. The leaves have a nice even olive green. I found aromas of roasted maize and spice above the golden cup, the palate also gets roasted maize and, in later infusions, berries with sweet astringency.
Flavors: Astringent, Berries, Popcorn, Roasted, Spices
Good opportunity to drink this one, since I had an excellent 2004 Yiwu GFZ yesterday. These teas are pretty similar in profile, but this is noticeably more “youthful”; more astringency, a little less slippery, and less humid.
The brew is crystal clear both in appearance and taste, very fruity, sweet, active and enjoyable. Huigan is great. Leaf quality is maybe a little below the GFZ, more broken stuff, but it is “cleaner”, and less affected by storage. Maybe a state-of-mind thing, but the qi was more noticeable for me this session, this tea gives me a buzz.
I would love to own it, but the price per gram is an elephant in the room; at $0.70, I’m not convinced it’s the best value for me. If I had a well-tested storage setup that I knew would do it justice over the coming decades, I would probably pay up the $0.70/g, wallet be damned. For short-term consumption though, it falls in the “maybe, but probably not” category for me
Quick rinse to wash the leaves and heat the teaware; aroma is fruit and berries, made me salivate. It’s sweet and fruity with some minerals, light body but still buttery. Slight hint of “traditional roasting” which becomes more evident in following steeps, maybe because I pushed it a little harder. The tea has a lot of flavor, aroma, mouthfeel and energy. Leaves some astringency/dryness in the mouth, and I wonder how it will change with further aging..
At $3/g it’s obviously not a daily drinker, and probably too expensive for me to buy more. I’m still glad I bought it, because I haven’t been drinking much aged oolongs lately, and this is a reminder that I should not give up on them.
when I smell the tea dry, it has a very faint smell.
when I smell the wet tea leaves, it smells nice
when I smell the brewed tea, it smells very light and smooth.
when I taste the brewed tea, it tastes very smooth and sweet with little to no spicey/smokiness
many thanks to paola mannaro for thisw sample :)
Curiosity has led to what I would describe as the high end teas found in this world.. Much to the same way we have A and then B list actors/actresses, premium tea is rare to find, and in the mass market of today.. especially with flavoured teas, tend to be on the lower end side. I mean certainly, loose leaf is better than tea dust in bags but just because it’s loose, really doesn’t mean all that much.
I think the general conception for most people is that if it comes loose, it’s the good stuff. But that’s far from the truth. Once you really start to realize how much quality differs on how fresh the tea is or really how intact or how “young” the leaves are. By my definition, if you get a tea, and you open it up and find half of it is cut up little pieces, 1/4 of it is just twigs, and then there’s the dust.. well that’s quite simply a crappy tea that’s offset by added flavouring and other stuff.
Welcome to what I would actually call something of quality; not that this is anything high end, but up there, before the point prices become unreasonable. Teamasters (Stephane) has been running his blog for a few years and he sell legitimate tea from Taiwan. Fresh. It even comes with a harvest date, that’s as specific as it can get. He writes up tasting notes and usually photos of all his tea that he sells served of course in its appropriate teaware. I was really enticed to try some of this “good stuff” out and it looked really nice.
I received this long ago but was kind of saving it until i drank down my large collection of rather lower end stuff from all over. My stash is still getting smaller and I’m still pretty unwilling to buy more stuff until most of what I have is done. Needless to say, I finally got to it today. Nice large rolled up balls (for a lack of a better word) and the still really fragrant smell really do look so much better than what I am used to. These happen to be handpicked so, all the more better. As noted, it is a very nice and light and sweet oolong, very appropriate for the price and the low altitude that it is grown at. Also as noted it lacks character of the higher altitude stuff but is great for a beginner like me.
After such a long hiatus from Steepster, I just had to pop back in and say that this is one of the best teas I have on hand in my cupboard. An “83” does not do it justice — the liquor is brews is incredibly floral and sweet, and tastes like a delicate mixture of buttery green tea, honey, and Dong Ding.
This one never disappointing. If you’re placing an order from TeaMasters and would like a sweet, flavorful everyday oolong, this is an incredible deal for the amount of high quality tea you’re getting. Will definitely buy more of a similar cultivar once I run out
After hearing such wonderful things about the hand-selected oolongs available at the Tea Masters blog, I decided to take the plunge and order a puerh sampler and a handful of oolongs to see what they were all about. The owner/ humble tea master Stéphane helped me select a few different teas, but I ultimately decided to go with the Si Ji Chun and Gao Shan Luanze oolongs to get a feel for the differences in price, quality, and altitude.
I started my journey with the extremely affordable Si Ji Chun oolong, for it allows me to get a feel for the “lower end” of the Tea Master’s spectrum. The leaves are beautifully rolled and unfurl to long, bright green leaves complete with their stems and even a couple buds. If I look closely I can see where the edges have been oxidized, but it’s VERY light.
To me, this tea tastes fresh, sweet, and grows increasingly “green” as my steeping times increase. It reminds me more of a pan-fired Chinese tea more so than a kelp-y Japanese green, but it’s got a certain vegetal aftertaste that I just can’t get out of my head! While I’m accustomed to Taiwanese oolongs being far less roasted and malty tasting (in comparison to Chinese teas), this one really surprised me with its bright flavors and floral notes and honey-like sweetness that shine early on at high temperatures.
In summation: I’m very impressed with the flavors and drinkability of this inexpensive ($5 for 25g) oolong. When I was on vacation, I tossed a handful of these oolong “pearls” into a ceramic cup and poured boiling water over them — the tea turned out great! My only suggestion would be to use about a 1-1.25:1 ratio in your gaiwan or pot (4-5g for 100ml of water); as a little extra leaf seems to really enhance the bouquet of sweetness. Would definitely order again!
I received a generous sample of this tea from Stephane the last time I placed an order with Tea Masters. I was expecting much seeing as 1) it was a free sample and 2) at only 7 years old, it’s a pretty young sheng. Gladly, my expectations were far exceeded.
This is one of the best young shengs I have ever tried, mellow and complex beyond its years. It brews up a beautiful dark amber-red, and has an aroma of sweet pipe tobacco. The flavor is a perfect blend of earthy and floral, with just the slightest bitterness lingering at the back of the tongue, resulting in a lovely aftertaste. This is a very special tea that will be amazing in another 10+ years.
My favorite type of tea is high mountain Taiwanese oolongs, and this is the best that I have ever tried. Due to the high elevation it is grown at, the brewing parameters for this tea are somewhat odd. I typically brew 3g in a small round yixing for at least 6 minutes. While most teas would become bitter at such extreme brewing times, it is necessary to extract the subtle flavors from this tea.
The aroma is incredible, almost perfume-like, and the flavor is light and delicately fruity, with an amazing aftertaste that lingers for several minutes. Mouthfeel of this tea is warm and velvety. All in all, about as perfect as tea gets in my opinion.
When trying it the first time, 4 months ago, I found this tea had a taste of tomato and pretty nothing more to it.
I don’t know what happened with it but the taste has greatly improved, even the scent of dry leaves has changed.
Brewed in a small teapot (20cl) – 90°C : 30s – 45s – 1’00 – 2’00.
Excellent tea, taste of ripe fruits and little woody. Usually I don’t like red tea but this one is excellent.