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Recent Tasting Notes
Spring 2019 Harvest, Winter 2020 Grind
Oh, man. I haven’t whisked a bowl of matcha for over five years and it shows. And I thought I could get away without sifting and winging the portion ratios/whisking motions? Nope. Waaaay too many clumps.
Thankfully, this matcha is a tasty forgiving kind. It’s mellow and grassy (bitter and sweet like dark chocolate), with a banana sweet finish. Today I tried it directly as powder (when it coated my fingers, don’t ask), as a hot whisked cup (strong but smooth), before dumping most of that cup over ice cubs and adding milk (mellow, grassy, gentle, savoury herb and sweet banana finish). It was tasty and flavourful in all forms. Looking forward to drinking this up and, hopefully, treating it with more respect!
Flavors: Banana, Dark Bittersweet, Grass, Herbs, Umami
This wasn’t a favorite. I expected honey and baked cherry but instead got an almost metallic black tea experience.
Check out my full review here: http://www.sororiteasisters.com/2019/04/21/thailand-red-tiger-oolong-tea-what-cha/
Finally, decied to open this pouch which was still sealed since I bought it in October 2019.
Anyway to the tea:
Aroma is wonderful of baked bread, nuts, pine, malts and just another wonderful notes of black teas.
Brew itself is having wonderful copper colour, clear and shiny.
But taste is dismal. It was quite generic, black tea, with little hints of baked bread and bit too drying.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Drying, Malt, Nuts, Pine
Summer 2019 harvest.
Plowed through a 25g bag without taking notes. What do I remember? A light, nutty-buttery body that thickened into a creamier mouthfeel when the tea was left to sit in my thermos. Straw, sandalwood, geranium, rose, lemon zest and linens, a bit of a malty-toasty-apricot feeling, green bell peppers. A slight bite balanced the heavier mouthfeel. Cooling/warming camphor mouthfeel extends into chest. Good summer time tea.
Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Camphor, Creamy, Geranium, Green Bell Peppers, Lemon Zest, Malt, Nutty, Rose, Straw, Toasty, Wood
Smooth with soft malt body, a bit of chocolate, dill and rose. All supplemented by a bright apricot tone and cooling mouthfeel. It’s a clean Nilgiri without much depth. I’m sure eastkyteaguy will swoop in some day with a lengthy list of flavors and aromas; I keep trying to pay attention but it’s one of those flatter thirst quenchers that goes down quickly. Some days do have more oomph than others.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Chocolate, Dill, Malt, Menthol, Rose, Smooth
Spring 2018 harvest
This tea feels like summer in this region of California, maybe an hour north at a friend’s place in Hopland where it’s hotter and drier. Early afternoon, sitting in the shade of a large, gnarled oak, looking out from the mountainside, the remnants of a recent grass fire on the mountain opposite, sun-scorched fragrant wood and crunchy oak leaves lying in the dry grasses at my feet.
A full, slick body with light honeyed pear sweetness carried on the breeze. Almost floral with hints of citrus blossoms. Hops and grapefruit zest, mineral water, hints of muscatel and woody almonds from the vineyards and plantations in the valley below. Aftertaste is smokey-savory, at first paired with florals that later turn fruity. Kind of like grilled pork with a blackened peach glaze.
The tea is a bit drying but leaves a thick, oily coating on the tongue. Pleasant menthol cooling in mouth and chest. Spicy in a woody way. Clean and cleansing. It’s a beautiful tea.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Citrus Zest, Dry Grass, Grapefruit, Grilled Food, Herbs, Honey, Hops, Meat, Menthol, Mineral, Muscatel, Orange Blossom, Peach, Pear, Smoke, Spicy, Tannin, Thick, Wood
So this is from Kawaii433 but I also received some from derk. THANK YOU BOTH. Not sure if Kawaii’s is also from 2017, as derk’s is noted on the sample. I thought it was time I try it, since there are two separate samples! I don’t know what I was thinking though, as I just sipped a roasted oolong the other day and they are definitely not the type of tea I want to drink often. Anything with the name “roasted” is all I can taste, which ends up being very one note and disappointing, as I know others can usually taste other flavors in these roasted oolongs. It’s always a shame! It is all I can taste: roasted charcoal. The third steep was especially off putting… shouldn’t have brewed if for four minutes, that’s for sure. The leaves are VERY dark and VERY tightly bundled. The flavor is smooth anyway, until that third steep. I think I sadly give up on roasted oolongs. They just ain’t my thing. But it’s nice to officially know that at this point.
Steep #1 // 1 3/4 teaspoons for full mug // rinse // 29 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 28 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 4 min
2020 sipdowns: 52 (one sample sipdowned anyway)
This was part of my “three tea mystery grab bag” purchase. I will upload a picture here in a day or two.
Mmm… this tea has a satisfying asparagus note, with a citrus-sweet finish that is currently reminding me vaguely of a honey-lemon Halls. There are some lovely nut and vegetal notes that someone with a better palate than me can try to pin down!
Flavors: Asparagus, Citrus, Hazelnut, Honey, Lemon Zest, Nuts, Seaweed, Sweet
Okay, I’m finally back on Steepster to post a review. I doubt I’ll have the time to bang out more than one this evening. This website’s bugs are starting to drive me crazy. This is now the third or fourth time I have tried to post this review. Hopefully this time is the charm. Anyway, this is yet another blast from the past. I think I finished what I had of this tea in either February or March. As Assam black teas go, this one was pretty much exceptional.
I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped approximately 3 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. I did not rinse the leaves prior to steeping, and I did not attempt any additional infusions.
Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cedar, prune, raisin, tobacco, and dark chocolate. After infusion, I detected new aromas of malt, cream, honey, and orange zest. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, honey, cream, butter, oats, tobacco, autumn leaves, cedar, caramel, raisin, prune, sorghum molasses, orange zest, pine, and lemon that were chased by hints of candied date, fig, roasted almond, and black cherry. There were even traces of red pear and dark chocolate left at the back of the throat after each swallow. The finish was wonderfully smooth, malty, and balanced with some pleasant fruity touches.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable Assam black tea. It produced a liquor that was very balanced and drinkable, presenting a wonderful and highly complimentary array of aromas and flavors while also offering a good amount of heft and fullness in the mouth. Basically, this tea offered what one would generally expect of a high quality Assam black tea. I doubt it will surprise any experienced Assam drinkers, but it is very enjoyable regardless. This is the sort of tea that doesn’t need to do anything out of the ordinary to be appreciated.
Flavors: Almond, Autumn Leaf Pile, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Dates, Dried Fruit, Fig, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Molasses, Oats, Orange Zest, Pear, Raisins, Tobacco
Thanks so much, derk! Another confusing oolong for me! What is wrong with me and oolongs lately. sigh. I will try my best. The name is lovely, and I’m very glad to have another Jun Chiyabari cross my path! It’s interesting that it is a mix of Japanese and Taiwanese tea cultivars. If I had to guess, I would say it tastes like a Japanese green… kind of marine like at times, which is not at all what I expect from Jun Chiyabari. Otherwise, light, buttery, sweet, creamy. The leaves after the rinse had an amazing fragrance… almost the scent of a Premium Taiwanese Assam which almost makes sense since the leaves are partly from Taiwan. I really wish the tea had tasted more like the rinsed leaves. The later rinsed leaves had more of a marine scent. So maybe I should have went with much shorter steeps. I will try the remaining leaves soon…
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for full mug // 21 minutes after boiling // rinse // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 25 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // 16 minutes after boiling // 1 1/2 min
2020 Sipdowns – 47 (Teavivre – Paris Champs)
Spring 2020 Harvest
This was provided as a sample with my latest order. Thank you, Alistair!
This tea has a gentle yet persistent creamy profile that is more than pleasant. I may have forgot I was drinking this tea and thought I made a Jin Xuan on the second steep. It was early and this tea is very creamy and smooth.
Steep Count: 5
Flavors: Cream, Floral, Freshly Cut Grass, Mineral, Vegetal
This was part of my “three tea mystery grab bag” purchase, and was definitely the one I was most excited to try after sniffing the leaves (what tea purchaser doesn’t immediately open all of their mailed teas and smell them, eh?). The leaves are also lovely and curled/twisted and black with gold-red highlights ( I took a crappy phone pic for steepster).
The aroma of leaf and steeped liquid is dusty rose, malt and grape, bearing some similarities to Darjeeling.
Tangy-sweet muscatel, stonefruit and floral rose are the most prominent notes. A faint hint of pepper. Malt is also present and incredibly smooth and syrupy – You know how some lagers are like super boring and taste like funky water for most of the mouthful, but then, BAM, you’re smacked with the finish of decadent honey-malt syrupy goodness? It’s like that except you don’t have to wait each mouthful for “payoff”.
Ok, so I enjoyed the few Darjeeling teas I’ve tried but never tend to buy them because I don’t love their tendency for astringency. This tea has all the qualities I loved about my favourite Darjeeling experiences minus that big con. There is some pleasant astringency but nowhere near the level of some of the first steep Darjeeling teas I’ve had.
This tea is just so incredibly smooth and full-bodied and hits all the right notes for me (I’m a rose note person). I don’t know how this would hold up with connoisseurs of Darjeeling or Nepalese teas but it’s more than perfect for my pedestrian tastes. Wish it was available for purchase!
Steep Count: 2
Flavors: Floral, Grapes, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Pepper, Plums, Rose, Stonefruits
I think it might be time for me to face the fact I can’t pick up on notes like other tea tasters :( I tried though. This is my last tea from the order I got from What-cha last year. Black teas are my favorite of all the tea varieties. This one was OK. I liked it well enough, I don’t pick up on the notes…it just tastes like black tea to me. Get’s pretty astringent quickly if you brew too much too quickly. It was OK..by the time I got the the bottom of the tea I was ready to move onto something different. I wish I could taste all the notes everyone else gets, I’ll keep trying. I really like What-Cha tho, quick shipping and great customer service.
Generally, I find Taiwanese oolongs to be a fairly safe bet. They are rarely flops. For some reason, this tea just doesn’t do it for me though. I don’t know if it’s just this batch or since I haven’t had other ones.
The aromas and flavours are fairly weak, the only distinctive note being an osmanthus scent. The taste is somewhat more sour than I am used to, but otherwise doesn’t really stand out in any way and the same can be said about the mouthfeel. There is a cooling aftertaste with a persisting sourness and quite a strong defocusing cha qi.
I don’t, maybe it’s just me. If my impression changes as I finish my pack, I will update the note.
Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Grass, Osmanthus, Sour
My cat has a very weird hang-up about going downstairs to eat unless I go with her. She’ll just lurk in my room giving me the evil eye as I try to work on my computer or get downright whiny until I finally take a break and escort her downstairs… once we are both on the bottom floor, she will happily eat. Don’t know why she can’t be a strong, independant woman who can eat by herself, honestly… in any event, since today she was doing her thing, I decided I may as well have a tea break while I was sitting there letting her take her nibbles before I got back to what I was doing, and brewed a small pot of this from a sampler so old I should be ashamed. Doubly so since it is green tea (the packet says it is an Autumn 2017 harvest, cough cough). Ah well, I’m still going to drink it. With everything else going on in the world, I think drinking expired tea is the least of my worries…
It smells surprisingly floral, an aroma I’d expect more from a green oolong than a green tea. I do get a somewhat beany scent from the aroma as well, but it is overpowered by the perfumy florality. The tea is a goldenrod color in the cup, and the flavor is like some of the more floral Bi Luo Chuns I’ve had in the past. I’m getting that vegetal beany/pea sort of flavor I usually taste in a Bi Luo Chun, but I’m also tasting a sweet orchid/lilac flavor that I most often taste in green oolongs. There are also notes of hay and minerals that settle over my tongue towards the end of the sip. I really like it! Neither flavor really overpowers the other, and while they may sound quite uncomplementary, the taste is very pleasant.
Flavors: Beany, Floral, Green Beans, Hot hay, Mineral, Orchid, Peas, Vegetal
This was a sample from Alistair, which is great, because I’ve always overlooked it. Wow. Sweet and fruity and toasty like a baked apple crisp with cinnamon on top. There’s some pear and cardamom in there somewhere. Big fan of this one so far, and I’ve only had it lukewarm a few hours after brewing it western-style. Gotta try this later in a gaiwan.
Flavors: Apple, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Pear
This was part of my “three tea mystery grab bag” purchase. I’m grateful that Alistair included this one because my past “less than stellar” experiences with other Four Seasons harvests has made me reluctant to seek it out again. I had one that was kind of doughy (ie- flat) in profile and it was meh.
However, this one is my jam. Like, it has fruity jam notes, which is one of my favourite things about some green oolong selections. It also has buttery cream notes (another favourite thing) and I am now pretending I’m eating a delicious scone. Life is good.
The aroma of the steeped cup is similar to that of the dry leaf: a floral bouquet of lilacs, lilacs, lilacs. A dab of Hyacinth. It dominates the room. I went into this first steep expecting an overpowering floral smackdown, like some Tieguanyin oolongs, and I was so kind of wrong (still a floral-heavy tasting profile).
Depending on how this session goes, and if following sessions yield consistently, I may just order more. I’ve denied myself the simple flowers for too long. Also, Four Seasons is always cheaper than the average oolong. Always a plus.
Steep Count: 4
(spring 2020 harvest)
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Honeysuckle, Jam, Mineral, Stonefruits, Sweet, Vanilla
Gah. I should not have been drinking one of my favorite types of tea yesterday- baozhong – when I knew my allergies would be at full boil. Thank you all the same, derk. And I have more to try at a later time. Since my allergies were annoying I couldn’t taste much. I noticed a delicate creaminess and sweetness to these deep emerald and huge twisty leaves. From what I could tell, very consistent steeps but the third steep did not seem overjoyed by the boiling temp? It seemed more like a mineral type of overdone flavor. A harshness when cooled, though not astringent. Maybe this one really shouldn’t be steeped Western? I was trying to be delicate with my steeps. Not much to say, but I needed to make a note that I tried it…
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for full mug // 29 minutes after boiling // rinse // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 20 minutes after boiling // 2 min
Steep #3 // just boiled // 2 min
Sipping a cup of this right now. Tried it on Friday and it didn’t taste like much, but then a conversation with a friend lead me to try it with 4-5 grams per 8 ounces of water instead of my usual 2-2.5 grams that I use for blacks and whites. Well, I feel like a fool now because there’s so much more flavor in my teacup.
The liquor smells like warmed clover honey, and it looks about the same. Toasted grains, hot almonds skins, and a dry vanilla are all present in the body. A bit juicy from an unidentified fruit. The aftertaste is sweet and buttery, like a less sticky version of the creamed butter/brown sugar mixture when you’re making cookies from scratch. It mellows down to a distinct floral note after a few moments; I want to say orchid. Lovely.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Grain, Honey, Toasted Rice, Vanilla
Japanese teas are not my forté but I usually enjoy them. This was a sample included with my matcha re-order — thank you Alistair :) I brewed the entire sample western in one go before work.
Cloudy brew full of sweet umami and good body. I remember it being extremely smooth and not leaning too heavily in any green-tasting direction. I got 3 great infusions, the first 2 of which ended up going in my thermos. It held up really well for several hours. I’m sure I could’ve gotten a fourth infusion based on how full of flavor and body the third was, but as it goes, I was in my typical morning rush despite giving myself almost 2 hours to get ready.
Flavors: Smooth, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Thick, Umami
Thank heavens eastteaguy is on here, because he tends to buy the same things I do lol.
I am holding off on rating this one, and I hope some of you have tried it before I did, but I have a very mixed opinion of it. Alistair described this one as a Baozhong style oolong, and it looked like that in the picture. When I got the actual leaf, it was a lot tippier than I thought it would be. It looks as advertised, and is very pretty, though.
As for tasting it, it was stronger than I expected. It’s supposed to be smooth, floral, sans bitterness or astringency, but it has the sharpness of a first flush Darjeeling. I used very light leaves and 1 minute of steeping, but it was still pretty cutting. The florals were there, like osmanthus, peony, major honeysuckle, linen, and it was a little bit sweet, but there was something still strong about it. Sharp is the only way I can describe it, though it reminded me of astringency, drying, or acidity. I could be brewing it wrong and would like some advice for those willing to give. Maybe my palettes off.
So far, I prefer the Hand Crafted Spring Oolong from Rohini, but I need to let this one grow on me before I make a final judgement. I will say this is definitely more for experienced tea drinkers who want to try India’s new stuff. I have not figured out a way for a new drinker to like it yet.
Flavors: Dry Grass, Drying, Floral, Honeysuckle, Osmanthus, Smooth
For a moment there, I was running low on good loose leaf. Only had a few tins with more than 20 grams of the good stuff in them. Probably won’t see my pre-existing orders from Hatvala and YS for a couple more months, at this rate. Thanks to Whatcha and their weirdly fast shipping to US, I’ve got 100 grams of this and a few other quality teas to replenish my stash. You’re my hero in these trying times, Alistair.
This is a lovely tea for the price point. Softly sweet with hints of caramel and raw sugar, cherry notes in the body, and a pronounced cinnamon aftertaste. Red Buffalo is still my favorite red oolong with it’s heavier flavor and chocolate base, but the light character and simplicity of this makes it a better casual cup. Don’t have to worry about brewing it multiple times so you aren’t wasting the leaves, just throw them right into the compost bin after the first Western-style steep.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cherry, Cinnamon
From derk! Thanks so much! Had this a few days ago. Jun Chiyabari is UP THERE on the list of stellar teas IMO. I’m very thrilled to try a couple more, due to derk’s generosity! I tried to use delicate parameters on this one, in the hopes of not oversteeping it. And whoa what a unique flavor profile this one is. I guess I used fairly close to the suggested parameters, without checking first. The brew is golden. The steeped leaves have a ridiculously sweet fragrance — almost like maple syrup! The flavor is like white grapes with even that dry mouth feel that a quality white grape juice might have (not that I’ve really tried white grape juice?) But then there is also a flavor to the tea like it’s a much lighter version of Premium Taiwanese Assam. It’s definitely a fruity profile – featuring many fruits – white grape, strawberry that I’m usually getting from fresh PTA and maybe even a hint of a sweeter lemon. All around unique!! The third steep was a bit overdone and flat — which is what I was trying to prevent with my delicate steeping. But maybe the leaves were toast by then. Next time, I will try a much cooler temp on the third steep. The first two steeps though – the quality of a fine white wine in a mug! derk describes this as SUNNY and I agree!
Steep #1 // 2 loose teaspoons for full mug // 31 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 26 minutes after boiling // 2 min
Steep #3 // 16 minutes after boiling // 2 min
Flavors: Lemon, Strawberry, White Grapes, White Wine