The Tao of TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
My original note for this tea is under a duplicate entry, which is currently inaccessible. I get a 404 error when I go to that page. Frustrating. New overlords, if you are listening, can you fix that please?
Sipdown no. 12 of 2020 (no. 607 total).
After the discussion of cold brew puer, I was in the mood. So my last two cold brew pitchers have been of this tea. The little nests made it really easy — I just unwrapped them and plunked them into the pitcher. The first time I left them in the fridge way longer than I intended, and they pretty much unfurled themselves completely. The second time, they retained some of their shape after about 1.5 days steeping.
Shu is actually quite pleasant cold, at least the ones I have tired. This one is. It’s like a very full bodied black tea. Not particularly the best vehicle for discerning nuances in flavor, color, aroma, etc. but the trade off is a very refreshing cold tea.
I wish I could read what I wrote about this before so I could figure out if I have anything to add. I can’t even tell how I rated it before.
This one is going to take some tinkering. Generally, I am not patient with tinker-needful teas. At four minutes with roughly the appropriate temperature (remember, I am a barbarian who does “kinda” and “sorta”) and a smidge less leaf than the tin recommends, this tastes much more like a Darjeeling than an oolong—and a rather bitter one at that.
I skimmed through other reviews, and another Steepster described it as an oolong evidently grown less than 20 miles from the Darjeeling region. That pretty much sums it up!
All the same, it was good to shake up my morning synapses with something different.
Therefore, I deliberately oversteeped the first pot to accommodate his palate. I got “bitter with a little bit of floral.” Some reviews mention orchids, and I get that. Hubby just got orchids.
Second steep (same leaves) was equally dark and much smoother, not so flowery. More drinkable by my standards.
Looking forward to another stab at this, based on my own preferences. Reviews also mention cocoa and I am all about that!
I think this is a great tea for the price, though definitely not the best oolong I’ve ever had. I did enjoy this and would buy it again if I’m tighter on money.
I brewed this twice, first according to the instructions and then unconventionally in my gaiwan. I much preferred the unconventional brew to the one by the instructions. The one where I followed the instructions turned out extremely bitter with very light notes of chocolate and mainly tasted like I’d just liked a log used for a campfire, so not something I’d describe as pleasant. I initially thought this tea was pretty terrible but decided to give it another shot in my gaiwan- I brewed it with steeps of 10s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 1min, 1:30, 2:00, etc. I managed to get nearly 20 steeps out of the leaves this way and I was able to taste the much subtler notes that were covered before. It tasted very sweet and had an aftertaste of a malty dark chocolate, with hints of caramel. It certainly wasn’t a traditional tieguanyin by any means but I would continue to brew this in my gaiwan rather than follow the instructions.
Flavors: Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Plums, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Sugar
The dried leaves are pine green and twisted into small balls, like gunpowder tea. They smell vegetal, like spinach or other greens.
When steeped, the tea is pale golden green. The leaves unfurl into full, complete leaves, with occasional small pieces of stem or twig. The size of the leaves compared to their dry state is really impressive! It smells of a lovely warm toastiness, like roasted nuts. The flavor is mild with absolutely no astringency, and has notes of wood and grass.
The tea makes for excellent second and even third steeps.
I had low expectations for a mass-produced tea like this company, but this is actually really high quality.
Flavors: Dry Grass, Roast nuts, Vegetal, Wood
Had no expectations for this tea, since I am not familiar with the company, and I got it from a Home Goods or TJ Maxx, one of those kind of stores. I just knew that I needed a ginger peach flavored black for making iced tea and this wasn’t an expensive purchase, so if I didn’t like it, it would be no big deal.
Well. This makes a damn fine iced tea. Love the balance of peach and ginger. Neither overwhelms the tea taste. There’s a lot of it to the package, so it’ll take some time to get through, which is more than OK with me! Very pleasantly surprised. Not sure if I would have it hot, but I feel pretty confident that it would be just as nice that way as iced. This is a winner!
Flavors: Ginger, Peach
I put a whole one of these in the 50 ml gaiwan, which is probably overleafing by a bit. I rinsed and then steeped at boiling for 10/10/20/30/40/50/60/120/240/300/360
The dry nests have a heavy, whiskey-like aroma. The nest fell apart fully after the first steep.
This one followed the pattern I seem to be observing where the first steep had a slightly lighter mahogany color, then the steeps darkened in color to a coffee color through the fourth steep and then began to lighten to a dark amber with each subsequent steep.
The first four or so steeps smelled of cocoa, coffee, molasses, and a little leather. It tasted like it smelled.
Around steep four, the flavor started to fade some and an earthy note came out.
Another observation: the shu pu erhs I’ve tasted mostly don’t really change all that much except for a shift around steep four when the start to fade. I tend not to really enjoy the later steeps that have less flavor as much. While I’ll continue to steep them through 10 steeps to be able to compare more accurately for initial note purposes, if I were just drinking for the sake of it, I’d probably stop after steep 5 in most instances.
Through steep 5, this was a nice tea with rich flavors, and no fishiness. I enjoyed its departure from the usual mushroom notes I get with shu.
Now that I’ve done some cupboard purging to get rid of things I seem to no longer have, I can report that the current status of teas in the cupboard with no initial notes is:
1 black caffeinated
1 black decaf
6 pu erhs
5 blooming individual servings
Flavors: Cocoa, Coffee, Earth, Leather, Molasses, Whiskey
Last weekend when I had a terrible cough, I pretty much stayed in bed binge watching stuff all weekend. I did taste a couple of oolongs I hadn’t written notes about before, but I completely skipped the pu erhs.
Since I’m no longer pressuring myself to “get through all my teas a first time and write notes about them,” I almost skipped a pu erh today. But I wasn’t done with tea for the day so I forged ahead.
This one’s dry leaf has a deep, leather and whiskey smell. Not at all fishy, and not particularly earthy/mushroomy either.
I rinsed this at boiling and then steeped in the gaiwan at 10/10/20/30/40/60/120/240/300/360
The first few steeps were lovely. A deep flavor, sweet like molasses, with a smell and flavor of leather and whiskey and a cognac color.
The third steep brought out a earthy note, and the sweetness started to fade after this and a not quite cocoa note tried to appear.
By the sixth steep, both color and flavor were well on the wane. The seventh steep brought out a weak tobacco note.
It’s unfortunate that this didn’t have more staying power. If it had managed to keep its richness and flavor longer I might have rated it higher.
In the early steeps, I liked it as much or more than the Rose Tuocha from The Tao of Tea, which I rated higher than I’m inclined to rate this one. So I’m lowering the rating on that one.
Flavors: Leather, Molasses, Tobacco, Whiskey
Sipdown no. 13 of 2020 (no. 608 total).
Continuing on my iced shu kick, we sipped this one down cold. Refreshing, if a bit earthier than the usual cold brew tea, but the rose lightens that aspect a little. And it didn’t seem to matter to no. 2, who was very eager for the last batch to be strained and drinkable.
For my thoughts on this hot, see original note.
I came very close to just steeping this once on the theory it is a “flavored” pu erh. I’m glad I didn’t, because I’m not sure I would have liked it as much as I did.
The nests in the tin smell like two parts earth to one part rose. I rinsed and steeped in the gaiwan at boiling for 10/10/20/30/40/60/120/240/300/360
Unlike the other tuocha’s I’ve had, this one took its time falling apart. It wasn’t until the fourth steep that it finally came apart — I wonder whether the petals have an impact on how the tea holds together?
Until the tea completely fell apart, the tea was not very strong — none of the usual cognac colored liquor until steep 4. Which is why I think I would have missed out had I steeped this western style. Though of course, if I steeped it longer in one steep it’s possible it would have come completely apart during that single steep.
The first steep had a faint rose scent/flavor and an equally as faint earthy/mushroom one. The mushroom did not increase, nor did the earthiness. Instead, the tea became some sort of undefinable flavor that was mild and sweet with a “highlight” of rose.
Different and enjoyable.
Flavors: Earth, Mushrooms, Rose
SHE IS BEAUTIFUL!! I absolutely love this white tea. It works well by itself and when I blend it with my other floral and fruit teas. It’s not overwhelming and it’s just a warm flavor. I steep this for a shorter time when I need I want a mild flavor and longer for a richer flavor. If I’m mixing it with fruit teas I’ll always steep it for at least two minutes.
Flavors: Nutty, Sweet, warm grass
Okay, here comes the final review of the day. This was another recent white tea sipdown. I think I finished the last of my one ounce pouch of this tea two or three days ago. Some of you may recall my disdain for The Tao of Tea’s entry level Bai Mudan, but this one was great. I had no serious issues with it.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf and bud mix in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 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 leaf and bud blend produced subtle aromas of hay, cinnamon, pine, and smoke. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of almond, straw, and cream. The first infusion brought out a hint of peanut on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, hay, pine, cinnamon, almond, and peanut that were backed by smoke, oat, and eucalyptus hints. Subsequent infusions saw a peony-like floral aroma make itself known alongside mineral, eucalyptus, and autumn leaf scents. There was a stronger cinnamon presence as well. In the mouth, I found stronger, more distinctive eucalyptus notes as well as impressions of golden raisin, autumn leaf pile, butter, minerals, birch, date, apricot, white grape, and lemon zest. The lengthier later infusions retained mineral, autumn leaf pile, straw, cream, and hay notes that were balanced by subtle lemon zest, butter, almond, peanut, and golden raisin characteristics.
This was another wonderful Fujianese Bai Mudan. It is a shame that it is either out of stock or no longer offered. Considering that I only paid around $4.00 for it, I was expecting another grassy, overly smoky, and relatively unattractive tea with plenty of broken leaf and bud material, but instead, I ended up with a gorgeous, silvery leaf and bud mix that was mostly intact and produced a wonderful, easy-drinking tea liquor with tremendous character. Go figure.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Dates, Eucalyptus, Hay, Herbaceous, Lemon Zest, Mineral, Oats, Peanut, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Straw, White Grapes
Here is another tea review from the backlog. I think I finished my one ounce pouch of this tea around the middle of June. This is the third Dancong black tea I have tried to this point in the year, and so far, I have come away with the impression that such teas are not and likely never will be for me. I have found each of the ones I have tried to be too sweet for my liking.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 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, and 7 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of pine, blood orange, lychee, and nectarine. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of malt and honey coming from the tea leaves. The first infusion introduced aromas of butter and toast. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, lychee, nectarine, honey, and toast that were balanced by impressions of cream. Subsequent infusions saw hints of cream, violet, and cherry come out on the nose. Stronger cream notes and new flavors of cherry, roasted almond, pear, violet, roasted walnut, and minerals appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging notes of butter, nectarine, pine, and blood orange. I also noticed some subtle hints of brown sugar, cocoa, and nutmeg in the aftertaste on several of these infusions. The final infusions emphasized lingering mineral, butter, cream, and toast notes that were offset by sometimes vague impressions of pine, pear, and violet.
I know that some people like Dancong black teas quite a bit, but each of the ones I have tried has been too rich and sweet for me. To be fair, however, I am pretty sure that each of the Dancong black teas I have tried have been produced from the Mi Lan cultivar, so maybe I just need to try some Dancong black teas produced from other cultivars. With this tea, I quickly grew tired of the overwhelming fruity and creamy/buttery qualities. That being said, I do not think this was a bad tea. It displayed nice depth and complexity and respectable longevity, especially for a tea at this price point. In the end, I just don’t think that this is a sort of tea for me.
Flavors: Almond, Blood orange, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Lychee, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Pear, Pine, Stonefruits, Toast, Violet, Walnut
Here is yet another tea review from the backlog. I cannot remember exactly when I finished the one ounce pouch of this tea that I bought back in the summer of 2016. I’m guessing I went through it either at the end of May or start of June. Surprisingly, this tea had mellowed without losing much of its complexity. I found it to be a very nice black tea that was quite similar to many of the Yunnan black teas I have tried over the years.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 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, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves offered aromas of brown toast, malt, honey, and sweet potato. After the rinse, I picked up aromas of butter and cream. The first infusion then brought out an aroma of brown sugar. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented mild notes of brown toast, malt, honey, butter, cream, and sweet potato that were balanced by notes of brown sugar and molasses toward the finish. Subsequent infusions saw molasses emerge on the nose alongside some subtle scents of cocoa and citrus. Stronger molasses notes appeared in the mouth on these infusions as did new notes of orange zest, cocoa, smoke, minerals, and roasted walnut. A rather subtle camphor impression also became notable on the swallow. The final infusions offered impressions of minerals, malt, butter, cocoa, and molasses that were backed by orange zest and sweet potato hints and a slightly heavier camphor presence.
Compared to a typical Yunnan hong cha, this Guangxi hong cha was a much more mellow and much smoother tea. I have been meaning to investigate some of the black and green teas produced in Guangxi for at least a couple of years now, but just have not gotten the time. This tea made me want to resume that investigation, but I have no clue when I will get around to it. I definitely need to try a more recent harvest of this tea at the very least. If you are a fan of the Yunnan hong cha flavor profile, I am willing to bet that you would enjoy this tea. At least consider giving it a shot if you are a fan of Yunnan black teas.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Butter, Camphor, Cocoa, Cream, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Walnut