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Recent Tasting Notes
An Ode to Tea challenge – T
From derk a while ago! Thanks very much! I have had this lovely oolong a few times now, and not only is every steep session different, but it seems I can’t describe any steep session! I feel I have failed oolongs all of the past year. Anyway… here is my sad note for this as it’s a sipdown. The leaf here says “roasted” but it seems like a dark green oolong to me. Flavorwise, whoa is this starchy both sipping it before and after eating cinnamon rolls. I would have thought the starch of the cinnamon rolls would have overpowered the starch of the tea – not so! It seemed more noticeable after. Otherwise the flavor is very sweet and mellow – I definitely don’t notice a roasted quality (which is perfect for me!).
Another steep session, that starchiness wasn’t there at all. Just a light, sweet, slightly fruity oolong. It was never “roasted” tasting anyway. And it was delicious always! Just impossible for me to describe.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for full mug // 21 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 3 minutes after boiling // 4 minute steep
Steep #3 // 12 minutes after boiling // 2 min
2021 sipdowns: 47
oh a haiku for haiku day: this took me seconds to come up with, what a pro I am:
Oolong is a treat
Never guessing the flavors
I drink it anyway
I westerned this one up and had a third accident of brewing too long, but the flavor of this one is incredibly rich. The roast is fairly prominent, but it adds to the flavor rather than taking anything away. I’m picky with darker roasts since they can be too harsh, cooked, or lean way too much in the roasted honey direction. This one was a lot more even, and I’m just going to use the notes What-Cha described, adding on what I tasted:
- Sweet honey and grapefruit taste
- Background roasted hazelnut notes”
The last two are very prominent. It starts off lightly floral, then immediately leans into acidity with honey and grapefruit, middling and ending with distinct roasted hazelnut. There some smoke splashed into the aftertaste too, and I occasionally got vanilla in steep 2 with some malt every once in a while. The later rebrews are smokey with some lingering citrus and acidity.
Yet again, I will write another note when I’ve drank this properly with less leaves or shorter steeps, but the flavors were still rich and distinct without being overwhelmed by oversteeped bitterness. It’s very good, and I’ll savor it during the last few weeks of cold fronts during the opening of spring.
Flavors: Bitter, Citrus, Dark Bittersweet, Grapefruit, Hazelnut, Honey, Roasted, Smoke
Finally! I tea I didn’t have to newly add? Who added it? OF COURSE EASTTEAGUY BECAUSE WE HAVE NEARLY THE SAME TEAS! Lol
I edited out some ranting. Essentially, Covid cases are up in my town, and we are in a weird position for the future since so many kids are behind and going through some tough stuff. Kinda put some glum on my birthday, and I am looking at what I can control over what I can’t.
I was extremely excited What-Cha offered some white Qing Xin. I’ve enjoyed some of the white tea I’ve had from Taiwan, but some of them can be a little bit too strong for me, especially if they are the usually black used variatals. Wang Family tea had two selections of the white of this varietal that were fairly limited, and now What-Cha has one. The leaves are HUGE, and vibrant with different bright shades of green, white, yellow, brown, red, and silver. The leaves smell like sourdough bread and honeysuckles.
Brewing it up western, Honeysuckle,Freshly Cut Grass, Bready Sourdough,Dry Pear, Mango, and lemon are the notes, getting a little bit fruitier as it cools down. Really enjoying this one. Will be writing more in the next few days to come. As of now and for the last two days, it kinda lost some lustre. I will have to be more careful since these are fairly delicate.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Drying, Floral, Freshly Cut Grass, Fruity, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Mango, Pear
I got this as a Christmas gift – a very well chosen one!
Fantastic sheng pu erh (also beautiful). Quite light and very delicate but still very fragrant. As with many sheng’s, it can take a lot of brews in the gaiwan – and for the price on what-cha, it is very economical for a pu erh.
The mushroom taste (found in a lot of light sheng’s, I think) make the tea a bit fragrant/umami also, which I love. Overall a fantastic pu erh
Flavors: Earth, Mineral, Mushrooms
If you are going for value for the money – this it it! I tend to buy the tea directly from gorreana.pt, where it costs 5$/100g with cheap shipping and within EU. What-Cha is not anymore :’(
I buy this tea for my parents, because of the excellent value and because it’s genuinely a solid black tea. Not a lot of bitterness, a lot of maltyness.
Also very exiting with a tea grown in the EU
One of my most favourite back teas, and my absolute favourite Darjeeling! I have not tried many autumn Darjeelings, but this one is great.
Very interesting and unique full body notes and a sweet taste. Reminded me a bit of a Japanese black tea I tasted at a Japanese tea factory.
I usually get quite a few brews from this.
Flavors: Flowers, Fruity, Nutty, Sweet
I recently received a sample of this tea, along with other ones, in a package from Martin – thank you very much!
It is very smooth and mineral tea with high salinity and a strong grass seed note. As such, my impression is pretty much identical to what derk mentions in her review. If I were to compare this tea to any of my previous experiences (I haven’t had any Georgian greens before I think), the closest would be Lu An Gua Pian – a green tea from Anhui that’s made without buds, just like this one.
Flavors: Grass Seed, Mineral, Olives, Salty, Smooth
Spring 2020 harvest
Dry — dark chocolate, peanut butter, malt, slight rye. Warm — dark chocolate, oak, osmanthus, vegetable oil.
Western has a very forward, sweet chocolate-honey-apricot taste for me with a delightful and drawn out powdery white floral and osmanthus finish. Overall, the tea is rich and deep upfront but a little thin-textured for my likes.
Gongfu, this tea has a good, viscous structure with balanced astringency and tannins. More tangy than western, less sweet. There’s also a nice swallow that I get from a lot of Old Ways Tea’s Fujian blacks – it’s squeaky, full and satisfying and I can feel it cool my throat. The tea is a bit drying but I think that allows the aftertaste to continue developing in the minutes after finishing a cup. Floral, rich and fruity notes of osmanthus and honeyed apricot-orange-peach with touches of caramel, chocolate and sweet potato linger in the mouth and sinuses. These aromatics are more apparent than the actual taste of the tea. Bottom of the cup retains a very sweet and deep osmanthus note supported by chocolate and red cherry. Comfortable energy. This tea is currently on sale.
Nice tea. Happy Easter :)
Flavors: Apricot, Caramel, Cherry, Chocolate, Drying, Floral, Flowers, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Oak, Orange, Osmanthus, Peach, Peanut, Rye, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tangy
Super smooth green tea I had yesterday. It was thick, green, savory, sweet, and loaded with Umami that’s balanced by sweeter corn notes. It rivaled some higher end Japanese I had in its flavor in mouthfeel. I’m personally picky with Green teas, but this one was very enjoyable in short steeps. I timed each steep at 25 sec, and did not exceed 35 until steep 4. I started getting a little tea drunk with how much tea I’ve been drinking. There was some evolution in the later steeps, with some bare fruit hints, slightly melon like, but it was predominantly grassy and savory. I could meditate with this one since it strikes me more as a health nut tea.
While this is not the kind of tea I personally prefer, I really enjoyed the change of pace and can at least recommend as something that rivals some more expensive Green Tea from Korea and Japan for its mouthfeel and umami alone. It was also had a lot of longevity that withstood me. I had to stop at steep seven personally, but I could see it going on. Definitely a tea snob tea who know thing or two about greens that want something affordable and flavorful. I’m curious what the oolong was like in comparison. I’ve had Korean oolong, and they are usually roasty and nutty, but if the green was this rich in flavor, I can only guess what the oolong would be like.
Flavors: Corn Husk, Green, Melon, Savory, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Umami
Here’s yet another tea from What-Cha, whose catalogue I seem to be slowly and methodically going through. Thanks, Derk, for sending these dragon balls for my further white tea education! I steeped one 6 g ball in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 75, 90, 105, 120, 180, 240, and then 5, 7, and 10 minutes.
The dry aroma is of jammy raspberries and other red fruits, apricots, honey, and autumn leaves. The first couple steeps have strong apricot and red fruit notes, plus honey, hay, autumn leaves, oats, malt, pine, and wood. The next couple steeps put the apricot at the forefront, with more honey, oats, and sweetness. I can see where Derk is getting marshmallows! By steep five, the oats, autumn leaves, and malt are starting to become more pronounced. By the one-minute mark, this tea has lost most of its fruity sweetness and has notes of malt, honey, oats, wood, autumn leaves, and tannins. The session ends with metal, wood, and tannins, though with some berry fruitiness returning in the long final steeps.
I was delighted by how sweet and fruity this aged white tea is. It also goes forever—perhaps too long. I tend to wring every scrap of flavour I can out of my leaves, so this session lasted from yesterday afternoon into this morning. However, this is hardly a complaint. I can see this being a better-than-average tea that can take oversteeping well.
Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Berries, Hay, Honey, Jam, Malt, Marshmallow, Metallic, Oats, Pine, Raspberry, Red Fruits, Sweet, Tannin, Wood
I don’t have much experience with Jin Jun Mei, and the few I’ve tried weren’t good enough to justify the price. Thanks, Daylon R Thomas, for sending me this version from What-Cha. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 190F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
In the bag, this smells like chocolate, bread, rose, and dill pickle chips. (Yes, I know, I’m a barbarian.) I think this is an association with a certain floral, herbaceous note over the grainy base, but it’s very pronounced. The first steep has notes of chocolate, malt, bread, butter, sweet potato, rose, other flowers, smoke, and, sigh, slightly vegetal, salty pickle. The pickle dissipates in the second steep, where I get tobacco, smoke, chocolate, bread, rose, and more sweet potato. The next few steeps are more bready and malty, with rose, lavender, sweet potato, and faint smoke. Earth and minerals come in on steep five. The session goes on forever, and though the body thins out, the honey, bread, floral, and smoky notes continue. The session ends with malt, earth, minerals, smoke, dill, some vegetal notes, and slight florality.
This is a beautiful bready, chocolaty, rosy tea that goes many rounds. I have to say that the dill was a fun distraction, and I wonder what it is “supposed” to be for people with better palates. This tea has improved my opinion of Jin Jun Mei. I might have to try a small amount of the really pricy stuff to see how it compares.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Chocolate, Dill, Earth, Floral, Grain, Herbaceous, Honey, Lavender, Malt, Mineral, Rose, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Umami, Vegetal
Had some this morning semi gong fu in my Gong Fu 2 Go tumbler. I only used half the vessel, so less than 8or 7 oz in size, but 4 oz in rinse and use for the 3.5 grams.
As a first steep after 35 sec, it was very fruity and sweet hitting its high mark early. Honey fructose, honeysuckle, citrus mouth coat, and then a lingering floral and apricot aftertaste bordering on juicy. I finished it quick. 45, 65, 75, 105, 135, and not much different in aroma or flavor. Later steeps were more honeysuckle and floral, hinting at gardenia, but still citrusy. I could see orange blossom being applied, but it was a hair more tart yet just as sweet.
I feel kinda boring since I did not get as much as I wanted this time around, possibly due to the lower leaf or other parts of the brewing method. I was highly satisfied with the flavor all the while missing something. It still stands out as one of the better Oriental Beauty’s I have in my stash.
Yet again, more to come in the future as I get to know this tea. I’m curious to see what easteaguy and others thought of this one. I liked it a lot more than the Vietnam one and the regular one in the lineup because I think this one is less drying and malty. I feel bad I keep on leaning towards the more expensive teas from What-Cha lately because there are some really great ones that are a lot more affordable. That doesn’t mean I won’t continue to recommend these, though I honestly recommend this one because I want to see what people will think. It’s too pricey for a tea newbie and suited more for intermediate drinkers. I’m not sure what an actual sommelier think of this one.
I’m still not sure what to rate this one. It’s in between eighties and 90s for me right now. I’ll probably change the rating in the future. Looking for commentary in the comments!
Might as well do this backlog while the computer is still open.
I still have some of this I need to finish. I liked this one more than the regular one on What-Chas site. The apricot, citrus notes, florals, and everything else mingle nicely under an aged profile. This is quality tea, and I need to do another meditative session with it. I don’t recommend it western or grandpa At least not yet. Based on how it shifted, though, and the expense, I’m staying gong fu for now.
Again, more in the future.
Flavors: Apricot, Gardenias, Honey, Orange, Thick
March 2020 harvest. A mystery oolong pick that Leafhopper shared with me when we went a little crazy in November.
The dry leaf has notes of spinach, walnut, cream, gingerbread and honeysuckle. This transforms into a very floral perfume with the rinse – notes of lilac and gardenia, plus cream and gingerbread.
The tea is one of the most fragrant unscented teas I’ve ever had, so strong that it’s dizzying — in a good way if I were to find myself in a mood that warrants such an effect — but I couldn’t handle it either time. The tea is creamy, sweet, soft and silky and produces a wonderful mouth-watering effect. The floral perfume lingers long in the aftertaste.
The characteristics of the tea soup point to good quality, but the floral aroma is much too intense for me. I can see why this tea garners such positive reviews here, but it’s simply not for me. This is truly a Jade oolong and for those sippers with a major floral tilt, I would recommend it.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Citrus, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Gardenias, Ginger, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Mint, Orange Blossom, Perfume, Smooth, Spinach, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Walnut
I’m excited to try a green tea from Georgia thanks to Martin!
Summer 2020 harvest, certified organic. The tea is soft and thick on the sip and transitions to a clean, mineral swallow before leaving a lingering salty and lightly drying finish. Notes of grass seed, green olive and the barest hint of spiced apricot are greeted by a mild astringency. Combined with the mineral-salty character, it creates an excellent palate cleanser and is treating me with a gentle hand upon waking.
While it’s a simple, mild tea, it excels at what it does. I’d say it easily plays a supporting role to the excellent black teas that What-Cha offers from Georgia.
Flavors: Apricot, Grass Seed, Mineral, Olives, Salty, Spices
The dry leaf smells like roast and apricot jam. The warmed leaf is sweet, fruity and floral with notes of honey, burnt brown sugar, apricot, powdered sugar and daffodil.
Following a long rinse, the tea is strange in the first steep, light in flavor but it leaves a very strong buttered lima bean aftertaste. The second steep better shows the Oriental Beauty character. I can taste a gently sweet honey, orange blossom, minerals (silica?), grass seed, osmanthus and a light nuttiness. This steep still displays the buttered lima bean aftertaste but in the subsequent steeps it turns into honey, orange zest and vanilla with light cream.
For being a tea 6 years old, this is a serviceable oolong. I don’t have much experience with Oriental Beauty but I found this version from Thailand, while much less oxidized than a regular OB, to be more true to that style of oolong than to a GABA oolong, which is what Leafhopper thought it resembled.
Thanks for the share, Leafhopper :)
Flavors: Apricot, Brown Sugar, Burnt Sugar, Butter, Char, Cream, Drying, Floral, Grass Seed, Honey, Jam, Lima Beans, Mineral, Narcissus, Nutty, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Osmanthus, Powdered Sugar, Vanilla
This is the first Persian tea I’ve been able to try thanks to Martin. The United States has imposed sanctions on Iran, so we are unable to receive any Iranian goods besides food products, which thankfully includes tea. I was unaware that Iran even produces tea. The arid climate of Iran gives way to a belt of land in the north of the country along the Caspian Sea which is suitable for growing tea. Lahijan is a city located in this region.
Spring 2019 harvest. The dry leaf has a comforting aroma of cinnamon raisin toast, malt and red fruits. The leaf is cut pretty small but I went ahead and prepared according to What-Cha’s recommendation. I used 3g for 300mL, steeped at 95C for 4 minutes. The resulting brew has an aroma of roasted nuts, cinnamon raisin toast, black currants, red fruits, malt and cocoa. The tea is medium- to full-bodied and meaty with balanced tannins and astringency. The flavor is full and smooth with tea rose, rosewood, mineral, roasted nuts, roasted meat and a red fruit tone. It is spicy, body-warming and relaxing and cooling in the chest. Gentle cinnamon raisin toast aftertaste.
This is an excellent tea! It feels very luxurious to me. Despite having roasted nut and meat notes, the tea does not at all have any lingering char taste. I was concerned that the chopped leaf and long steep time would produce a heavy, astringent and bitter tea but it is smooth as could be and light in my stomach. It’s definitely not a black tea that requires milk and/or sugar. One thing to note, though, is with a 4-minute infusion time, the tea is truly good for only 1 cup. I did let today’s brew go for about 6 minutes and it was just as good as the 4-minute brew.
Flavors: Astringent, Black Currant, Brown Toast, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Malt, Meat, Mineral, Mint, Raisins, Red Fruits, Roasted Nuts, Rose, Round , Smooth, Spicy, Tangy, Tannin, Wood
I received this tea as a sample in my last What-Cha order. It was harvested and roasted in 2020. I steeped the entire 6 g in a 120 ml teapot at 200F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
Dry, this tea has the typically lovely aroma of a Gui Fei: honey, baked bread, stewed fruit, citrus, and grass. The first steep gives me honey, grapefruit, grains, roast, wood, and minerals, with a strange nutty and chicory-type aftertaste at the back of the throat. The grapefruit gets stronger in the next steep, but so does the astringency. I also get citrus, honey, sap, roasted almonds, and roast. I let the third steep cool and the nutty flavour intensifies, along with the grapefruit and piny notes. It kind of tastes like an IPA. There are beautiful peach and nectarine notes in steep five to compensate for the growing astringency. In the next few steeps, the grapefruit, roasted nuts, honey, and grains don’t go away, but the growing astringency makes the tea less enjoyable. The session ends with malt, nuts, earth, wood, minerals, honey, and faint grapefruit.
Although I enjoyed some aspects of this Gui Fei, particularly the grapefruit, the roast and astringency were more pronounced than I usually like. What-Cha says this tea improves with age, and maybe I should have stored this sample in my tea museum for a couple years before trying it. I’d say it’s decent for the price if you like this type of tea, which I certainly do.
Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Baked Bread, Citrus, Earth, Grain, Grass, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Nuts, Peach, Pine, Roasted, Sap, Stewed Fruits, Wood
All of my What-Cha teas have come as gifts from Superanna, my eldest daughter. She surfs my wishlist, picks a tea, and then chooses a surprise tea or two to go with it! I had White Rhino on my list, and she chose this one!
She told me she had ordered my gift and shipped it straight here, but I was expecting several packages and didn’t realize this wasn’t one of my own orders (box didn’t seem to say What-Cha and I had some other tea coming) so I opened it. Happy early Birthday to me!
I got a nice sample I haven’t tried yet, and a note on White Rhino is coming soon.
I am not sure that I have had a Nepali black tea before, but this is really wonderful. There are only a few black teas that the Ashman enjoys plain, and he liked this one very much. We had it for breakfast today but I had already had it once on my own.
Though the area is known for producing darjeeling, this could more easily be mistaken for a Keemun. I am totally out of Keemun and at present I don’t mind at all because this will stand in very nicely indeed.
This has the chocolate-y notes and a delightful nutty roastiness without smoke that endures throughout the steeps. It is mildly brisk, but the type of briskness that is totally without sourness and needs no softening with milk or smoothing with sugar. It dries the mouth, but doesn’t pucker it. This is so gulpable, and makes you reach for more again and again.
I made two steeps together this time and combined them -I think it was a 36 ounce pot. After breakfast I wanted something to wet my whistle after helping a neighbor with her yard work a bit and I made a third steep, wondering if it would still have enough flavor to be worth it. It certainly did have enough flavor, as much as some teas have on their first steep.
This one is probably not going to last long here…
Thank you, Superanna! It is excellent tea!
Backlog and Return:
The past two weeks have been tough. First of them was the slow physical recovery from the 2nd Moderna vaccine. Had all the temporary side effects letting me know my body was working and developing immunity with a dollop of misery. It took me a week before I was ready for any physical effort or strain.
Then the following week was a tough one at school. We discovered that 30% of our students have filed as homeless at one point, and we had more to deal with to help ensure our kids were safe and continually adjusting to being in school. As an alt. ed, we’ve already had every day instruction for more than half of our students, but since we have the go ahead to include more students, we’ve had a few new ones. So essentially, it’s the first week of school at the end of a trimester….so fun.
Fortunately, my avaricious consumerism and the frequent gifts of What-Cha and the goddess Guan Yin have visited me in those two weeks. I was stoked that Alistair had this in his line up this year-I’ve tried one other before, but unroasted Taiwanese TieGuanYin Gaoshans are so hard to find and so expensive. I’ve itched to get more from Taiwan Sourcing, but their pricing and shipping is beyond what I look for, so What-Cha came in to the rescue with a deal. I decided to budget by getting only 25 instead of the 50 I planned-I partially regret it because this is a very refreshing tea.
In terms of notes, this one was kinda hard to pin down in description. I’d be concerned I’d over describe. There are few specific flavors that came to mind with it that you could see other people tasting, even if they are novice, but the tea is on the ethereal spectrum of high mountain greener oolong, more along the lines of a Dayuling Yu Shan, or a Jade Oolong. Alistair also avoided over description by calling it clean, slightly sour, smooth as all of the company’s teas are, and floral. The tea is certainly green and clean, but not quite green enough for me to call it entirely vegetal. Maybe grassy and herbaceaous, but overwhelmingly floral, sweet, and light.
Earlier steeps gong fu or even western have some of the usual lilac and green notes you get from high mountain tea with a swath of the TGY varietal orchid notes, but it’s a little sweeter like sugarcane. The flavors amp up in steep 2 and 3, reminding me of a mix of cilantro and freshly canned pineapple, still plump with juice and water. I get more of the apricot sourness I’d associate from TGY in the third steep, and then it’s more prominent in steep four, then it fades. Last remaining steeps are generally green floral and vaguely fruity-effervescent as it has been.
I will say this one is better to do Gong Fu with either longer steeps or a decent amount of grammage, but it works well western and adequately grandpa for tumbler fuel. This is not a beginners tea, but it’s palette is very easy to drink and not at all drying. Depending on my budget, I’m going to have to include some of this again in my next order. It’s not as flavor forward as usual Qing Xin Li Shans or other Gaoshans, but it’s got a lot to offer in terms of aroma, and dare I say it, Qi.
The clarity of energy in this one is probably one of its biggest highlights. I also say that since I drank it during the clearing of Michigan’s cruel monochromatic grey weather that turned into a sunny blue and green day. Spring is sneaking through the snow as the sun wakes the grass from its slumber, as my wallet opens to spend more tea and share it with another.
Yes I rhymed. I was bored.
PS. The sourness reminds me of a green apple. Note added.
Flavors: Apricot, Creamy, Floral, Green, Green Apple, Herbs, Orchids, Pineapple, Pleasantly Sour, Sugarcane, Tart, Tropical
Wow, what a beautiful, intense tea.
I started drinking this in the early morning and then got to work pulling weeds, root and all. When I needed a break, I’d come in for another short steep. From the get go, this tea’s aroma and taste were both thick with deep honey balanced by dancing pink rose florality on top of a demure violet, pure vanilla, sweet cinnamon, toast-pastries-baguette, meadow-dandelion flowers-hay. What else… cream, creamed honey, straw, green wood type of astringency, cleansing minerals. I lost count of steeps (15?+). A few of the pearls still hadn’t completely unfurled so I chose to cold-brew from there.
This beautiful tea fueled 12 hours of hand weeding in silence followed by mowing. It exposed my insanity, that tunnel vision developed from 5 years’ work of removing invasive species. I don’t know what happened. But it was good. Cathartic, even. Thanks, Leafhopper :)
Praise aside, the effects of the tea were much too overwhelming to likely consider ordering if ever available again, thus my lowish rating. Still very much recommended, especially since it has aged so well.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Cream, Dandelion, Floral, Flowers, Green Wood, Hay, Honey, Mineral, Pastries, Rose, Straw, Sweet, Thick, Vanilla, Violet