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Recent Tasting Notes
Sipdown no. 75 of 2018 (no. 431 total).
The bag this came in was humongous, so this sipdown is a feat. I’ve been drinking this daily at work, and also made a few pitchers of cold brew.
The cold brew is why I’m bumping the rating. It’s decent and refreshing. I’m still not loving this hot, but you can’t win them all.
The package says to steep at 160-170F for 2 minutes. I’ll try that later, but for now I’m steeping at the Breville’s green tea setting.
The leaves of this one are long and twiggy. They’re a bit coarser and more tubular than those of the Mengding Mountain yellow buds, which were flat and shiny like dragonwell leaves.
In the packet, the leaves smell a little nutty, and also like dried hay.
Steeping at this time and temp may not be enough. I’m getting the white tea syndrome from this. Almost colorless liquor, very little aroma and flavor.
I’ll try again tomorrow using the scale instead of spoons and steeping according to the package directions. We’ll see what that does.
For now I have to rate this low because — no flavor at all, really.
Flavors: Hay, Nutty
Sipdown no. 67 of 2018 (no. 423 total).
It feels good to sip this down because it was a big honking bag, almost dimensions of letter sized printer paper. I’d say it’s about 8×10.
Lesson: hot water and long steeps gets some flavor out of white tea, as does cold brew.
I’m still not sure I grok unflavored white tea, or perhaps it’s that I don’t fully appreciate it because I am not sure I’m tasting it prepared as it was intended. I should probably try some at a tea house somewhere, where a professional makes it, so I know I’m getting the preparation right.
Still, what I’m tasting in both hot and cold brew grew on me enough to get this into the green smiley face column, ever so slightly.
I’ve been experimenting with this tea over the past week because I felt sure I was missing something. Like I’ve said before, I don’t “get” white tea and I keep trying to get it.
I decided to try this with hotter water and see what that did. There seems to be a division of opinion between whether to use low water temperature or hot water temperature with white tea. My first shot was low, so I tried boiling at 3 minutes yesterday. The flavor from that endeavor was marginally better than the 0 flavor I got from the original steep.
Today, I tried boiling at 7 minutes. In other words, I treated this as an herbal. This is the most successful steep yet. Today’s steep has a mildly nutty flavor a little like water chestnut or macadamia.
But the most successful of all has been the cold brew. On the strength of the cold brew alone, I’m upping the rating from 20 to mid-range. The cold brew is actually flavorful — definitely nutty but also arboreal, and a sweet aftertaste.
I wish I could figure out how to make the hot tea taste like the cold brew. I’ll continue to experiment. I have a ton of this, so a lot of room to play.
Meanwhile, No. 2’s assessment of the cold brew is “it tastes like leaves, like every other tea you ask me to try.”
Since I wasn’t able to find an untried plain black tea this morning with anything approaching ease, I decided to switch gears and do a plain white tea instead.
I’ve never really understood white tea. I love the concept of it, and I think I’d like the tea itself if I could ever get it to steep in a way that brought out its flavor. But I’ve tried a gazillion different ways, and no matter what I do the best I can get out of it is a sort of dew drop flavor for the silver needle variety and a planty, almost weak black tea flavor out of the white peony variety. Neither of which makes it worth my valuable tea tasting time.
This one falls into the former category. It’s a visually pretty tea with a pungent earthy smell in the newly opened packet. I steeped according to package a directions, and it came out so colorless that the only way I could tell I’d steeped it was the heat.
It smells like nothing so much as hot water, too. After draining the cup, I can smell something very subtley sweet, but wow is it barely there.
My impression of the flavor is pretty much the same. I can’t really taste anything — anything!
I’m concluding that I should drink up all my white tea and then give up on it. I’m sure it will be a mutually beneficial parting as this poor tea is probably everything a person with the gene that can taste white tea could want — but it does absolutely nothing for me. I might as well drink plain hot water.
I’ll probably try it cold brewed and see if that does anything interesting. I might also try it steeping hotter and longer just for laughs. But absent a miracle, I think this is one that’ s lovely fluffy leaves are taking up way too much room in my house for what it provides to me in return.
Flavors: Earth, Sweet
First to write a note on this? Unbelievable.
I tried to fix the picture but I couldn’t. (Why? I tried several different ways and all I can get is more images farther down the page.)
I wasn’t sure I’d like this one from the smell of the dry leaf. It has no sweetness in the dry leaf aroma and a rather ashy fragrance that usually spells dislike for me with lapsangs.
But you can’t judge a book and all that. The aroma of the steeped tea is quite different — sweet, molasses-like, leafy and tree-like, with a lot of depth and surprisingly little smoke. The smoke is really verging on not there at all, except in the aftertaste and fortunately it doesn’t add bitterness to the lingering flavor. The liquor is dark amber with a reddish tinge and clear.
The flavor has a quality that reminds me of black coffee, but not as bitter. The smoke, molasses, and tree are all there in the flavor as well in pretty much the same way they were in the aroma. Thankfully there’s no ash, no meat, and no resin (though if you like those things in a lapsang, I guess that’s not a plus).
I’m torn because I think this is great compared to others I’ve had recently, but that’s because it departs from qualities I associate with lapsang that make me view it as a once in a while thing. If this is the sort of flavor Churchill prized, I can see why he drank lapsang daily.
I haven’t had the Samovar in a long time. I rated that one 90 as well, so I think I should taste it again sometime soon and see if adjustments are warranted.
But it makes it a bit easier to decide which is the next sipdown candidate in project lapsang sipdown. It won’t be this one.
Flavors: Coffee, Molasses, Plants, Smoke
Not a green tea, but I decided to crack this one open this weekend before I cut myself off from caffeine for the rest of the day.
I steeped 5 degrees hotter than directed.
The dry leaves remind me a little of dragonwell. They have a roasty green smell to them.
The steeped tea has a nutty, sweet aroma. It reminds me a bit of water chestnuts. Weirdly, it’s almost citrusy.
The tea is also nutty and sweet, and reminiscent of hay. It’s like what I imagine white tea ought to taste like, but I can never get it to taste that way.
Definitely more flavorful than the last yellow tea I tried, Rishi Ancient Yellow Buds, but since I don’t have a baseline to compare it to, I’m rating it somewhat conservatively for now.
Flavors: Chestnut, Hay, Nutty, Roasted, Sweet
This is a good tea. It’s kind of like black tea, but without much of the harsh stuff that is found in black tea. Also, this tea doesn’t have any of the ‘tippy’ taste found in tippy black tea, which is good since i dont like that taste much compared with older leaves. So, even if you hate the typical black tea, i would still recommend you try this since it’s quite different from the prototypical Chinese or Indian types of black tea.
It reminds me of Taiwanese black oolong (aka red oolong). Like many oolong teas, there’s no bitterness/astringency whatsoever. Perhaps this tea is better than the Taiwan black oolong i have? (It’s from Norbu Tea). But, i need to do a side-by-side comparison.
Incidentally, Yunnan Sourcing sells this tea too. And, if it’s the exact same tea (qualitywise), then you could buy cheaper from them instead of Tea Trekker. (But, i dont know if they are the same grade. I’ve noticed that Tea Trekker has some better quality oolongs.) Anyway, you should probably read the reviews of Yunnan Sourcing’s version, too.
Bought some of the 2016.
This is fine. It’s a very jadelike oolong. Not my favorite style of tea. But, I used to like this kind of tea years ago. It’s comparable with jade tieguanyin style teas. It’s cheaper than those ones, so it’s a better deal.
However, if you like jade oolongs, personally, I would look to Taiwan for those.
It’s a pretty good tea. However, it’s very light. Maybe, not everyone will appreciate that quality. I guess it’s more hay-like than grassy in taste. Anyway, I think it’s a good tea, but I actually prefer other green teas much better.
Tea Trekker says they try to get products that have less charcoal taste since that’s what Americans like. Well, I would have preferred to get the more Chinese-like product. But, you got sell what the public buys.
I bought the 2017 harvest.
I’ve gone back and forth on this tea. When I first tried it, I was surprised. It was rather spicy for a green tea – compared to the other Chinese greens I’ve had before. I wasn’t sure that I liked it. However, I bought a good bit of it, so I just continued to drink it. Now, I think it’s pretty good. It really shows the variety of green tea types found in China. It’s very interesting. Perhaps it’s just when you get tea close to its genetic origins (Yunnan), you get greater variety of tastes. It’s inexpensive as well compared to the famous teas.
Really solid tea. Delicious, homey, I’m new to Tieguanyin but I really like this. Crowd pleaser for sure. I got elements of Jin Xuan in its butteryness and sweet cookie notes. But it had a whole other element of smokiness and dark spirits. Would very much buy again, really enjoyed.
Brewed 5 grams in 100ml gaiwan starting at 15/20s, then 25, 30, etc. Went for about 12 infusions
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Butter, Smoke
Quick overview/TLDR: A delicious tea featuring intoxicating creaminess and rich brothiness. Dark green (but not bitter) vegetal flavors mix with gentle minerality and subtle floral notes.
Dry leaves: Very dark, twisted/curled leaves, mostly intact, with some stems. Dry leaves have characteristic oolong roastiness, brown sugar sweetness, a bit of cocoa powder.
Brewed in gaiwan (~100 ml capacity), 4 g of tea. Started with ~200F water. Quick wash. Wet leaves look deep green and smell that way too, smell of cooked hardy greens like collards, a touch of vegetal bitterness, but with a lot of butteriness in the smell too.
First steep: ~5 sec. The color is a clear light brown with touches of orange and green. Wonderful creaminess in flavor, with light to medium body. A slight tickle of bitterness and minerality on the tongue as it goes down.
Second: A bit more than 10 sec. Leaves are still somewhat compressed and partially curled but starting to open up. Leaves smell quite savory. The liquor has even more of that luscious creaminess. Like a tasty vegetable broth made with lots of extra virgin olive oil. Still feeling that minerality on the tongue and throat.
Third: ~20 sec. Color remains that light golden brown, but a bit deeper in shade. Some of the buttery texture has thinned out, but it leaves a wonderfully soft, gentle, creamy aftertaste (or “afterfeel”) in the mouth.
Fourth: ~30-60 sec (let it go a bit longer here). Leaves still haven’t completely unfurled, but are starting to expand and fill the bowl nicely. Liquor was noticeably darker this time. Intoxicatingly creamy aroma with those light savory/brothy notes. The longer steep brought back more of the buttery texture, while I’m also getting noticeably more tingly minerality. I’m starting to notice a gently floral quality and sweetness, particularly at the back of the mouth/throat. As the tea evolves it’s becoming more balanced, blending the creaminess, minerality, savory and sweet components.
Fifth-Eighth: Bumped the water up to near boiling (whatever temperature my kettle kept the water on its “keep warm” feature). Increased steeping time.
Overall these steeps feature a lighter, honey-like color. They continued to have less creaminess (although still a noticeable amount) and more minerality, with an overall weaker flavor. But the flavor was different with each infusion, some bringing out more roasted flavors, some with more sweetness.
Overall feel/energy: Mellowing, comforting, the creamy quality of the tea seems to spread through your body. Mild giddiness/drunkenness. Very easy on the stomach, helps control appetite. If you do a lot of steeps, you’ll start to get some caffeine energy/jitteryness, but I find it overall balanced and pleasant.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Kale, Mineral, Olive Oil
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This review is based on one steep western style. It is a nice sweet tasting, somewhat earthy ripe puerh. It is from 2008 so it has cleared somewhat. I might even go as far as to describe the sweet note as a dates note. It is pretty tasty. I should add that Tea Trekker sells some good tea.
I brewed this one time in a Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper with 3 tsp leaf and 200 degree water for 30 seconds after a 10 second rinse.