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Recent Tasting Notes
I am 99.9% sure that this is one of the teas from White Antlers, so many thanks!
We went to Lidl last week, which is a huge deal for us. We buy very little and we seldom go but for some reason it is almost a date night. Lidl is new here, and we really love picking up some unusual little something to try. That something this time was frozen baklava.
Before you judge, let me just put it out there that years ago we could only get baklava once a year as far as I knew, when the Greek Orthodox Church in town holds their World’s Largest Spaghetti Dinner in November.
Then I found out that a restaurant nearby owned by one of the church members sells it – but they sell out fast. Every time I have had a baklava craving, I have heard the sad words, “We are sorry! Someone came in and bought the whole tray!”
So when I saw frozen baklava at Lidl I figured it couldn’t hurt to try.
But what tea to pair with it?
I have been eyeing this one, but was afraid I wouldn’t like it and it would ruin my baklava experience and almost had Da Hong Pao, but the more I thought about it, the more I was sure that the toasted sesame flavor would be great with the walnut baklava.
Because once again, the craving hit fast, there was no following those sissy instructions and letting the pastry thaw for two hours on the counter. Time’s a-wastin’, people! I popped it in the microwave on the very lowest setting for a few minutes, turned it around, and gave it another minute. It went really well.
As for the oolong, I gave it a quick rinse and then followed the instructions. (Unlike the baklava…) The first steep is brilliant gold and gleaming in my silver lined cup and smelled almost toasty smokey with a hint of burned crust, but tasted nutty and definitely sesame. It really did taste great with the baklava. Neither detracted from the other and the tea cut the sweetness of the pastry nicely. The second steep was creamy and nutty, smooth, and flavorful but not overpowering. The strong roasted aroma is turned down a bit and sesame rules now.
Third and fourth steeps are paler gold and still going great with the baklava. I am so glad I chose this instead of Da Hong Pao, which would have been good but I got to have a little tea adventure tonight!
Thank you to JK7Ray for the chance to try some of this. I’e heard a lot of good things about world tea podcast. I should really start listening to podcasts.
There is some sweetness here and it makes the toasty rice flavour really pop. Very smooth, a little floral, nicely roasted (mild to moderate), not vegetal at all.
Flavors: Floral, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet, Toasted Rice, Toasty
I probably shouldn’t drink tea like this at work, when I’m having a horrible day and I’m feeling more than usually distracted. I’d brought it with me as my pick for today, though, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let someone obnoxious put me off my tea stride. So. I’m trying hard to concentrate long enough to form a coherent opinion, and maybe that’s exactly what I need to do in order to calm down some.
Anyway, this strikes me as another winner (and there have been a lot of those from Dark Matter.) Initially, it’s a lightly roasty, lightly nutty oolong. It’s none of the things I don’t like about oolong (again! I have clearly misjudged oolong…), and a lot of things I’m deciding I do like.
The second steep has a delicate honey-like flavour, and a touch of sesame, although not as much as I expected given that it’s called sesame. Still, that’s a minor complaint when what I’m drinking is so nice. I haven’t taken it any further yet, but I’ll probably resteep a couple more times before I call it quits. It’s a good ’un!
Unearthed this one which I bought a year ago at our local tea festival. Conveniently, it was still in the tea festival shopping bag which made it easy to locate and as our annual festival date is rapidly approaching again, I needed to get busy. With my tea situation being the way it is, I am indeed starting to wonder whether I have any business at all going to the tea festival this year.Now that I’ve covered the context, now about the tea. Mostly smokey, but nicely so. I don’t detect any maple, not even when I squint, though that might indeed be what is softening the smoke. I am guessing that the base here is a blend of Lapsang and possibly Keemun. There is the slightest bit of sweetness on the tail end of the sip. And the sweetness creeps up as you continue on with your cup adding legitimacy to the maple concept. I like it and will not have any difficulty finishing off the rest of the bit that I have left.
Happily on steep number three.
If I do end up going to the tea festival, I might just seek out more of this if the vendor is there.
Another from Dark Matter 2016. It smells like navy rum, straight out of the bag, and fortunately it doesn’t lose that once brewed! I was a little surprised by the leaf, which is finer even than CTC – more like powder than anything. As a consequence, it brews up pretty dark pretty quickly. Not to worry, though, because it’s incredibly smooth with absolutely no bitterness or astringency. I get a sweet malt base, a prominent rum flavour that dominates most of the sip, and a touch of spice towards the end of the sip. Mostly, though, this is about the rum. I’m glad for that, because it’s delicious.
If there’s a good way to drink rum at work, this is it!
This tea frightened me, for I was pretty sure I was going to hate it. However, I decided to finally walk through my fear and gongfu the darn thing.I grabbed my shibo and prepared for the worst. I opened the package to reveal ctc grade black leaves and some crimson pieces scattered throughout. The leaf gave off a strong rum and malt tone with some dark cocoa nibs along with a rich, warm, and spicy background. I warmed my shibo and dumped what I had inside. I lifted the lid, and I instantly thought of hot hard apple cider, or perhaps hot apple cider spiked with rum. It was a very intense tone. I did not wash the leaves. The brew was a deep dark red, but I gave it a sip, and I was quite surprised. The tea was actually quite good. The initial taste was dry cocoa, hard wood, and apple cider, except less on the apple part. The wood and spices were very intense. The aftertaste is what hooked me; it was an oily and heavy taste of sweet raspberry, blackberry, and dark cocoa. I could only not a slight run taste, and it stayed towards the back. The next steep intensified the wood notes along with some spice, also the brew became significantly drier. Towards the end, the brew was a bit too aggressive, but it still carried the sweet berry aftertaste. This was an interesting tea!
Flavors: Blackberry, Dark Chocolate, Dark Wood, Malt, Raspberry, Rum, Spicy, Wood
I love how robust this tea is. Nice and malty.
This first cup I didn’t focus too much on the flavour notes, since I was getting ready to head out the door and needed the caffeine.
Can’t say I noticed the cranberry, with or without the milk. It was rather sweet on it’s own, but I added a touch of sugar to try and bring out the fruitiness. No go, apparently.
The natural sugar note felt ,more licorice like than cranberry.
That particular sweetness isn’t one I’m terribly fond of in some blends, generally the “healthy” or medicinal types. Usually I don’t mind it in chai so I’m not sure why it didn’t work for me here. It may have been the distribution of spices in my spoon of course, or some other factor I haven’t figured out yet?
More investigation required!
I had a long note written up. But my computer froze momentarily, and then it was gone. Le sighs.
So short version:
This was an amazingly yummy tea. I actually felt as if I was drinking alcohol, I’m not sure what kind? Not scotch. Aged whiskey? Hmmm.
The black base was interesting, milk and completely lacking in astringency except for where the alcohol comes in and things got muddled. I’ll have to try it another day, and soon. Not only so I can write a better tasting note, but also to avoid hoarding. Since the last aged in an alcohol barrel tea I had lost it’s alcoholness faster than I anticipated. At the very least, I hope to finish it before the next tea festival when I can grab more lol
I adore this tea. Not only for the name, and its origin of Africa, but the taste as well. Honestly? I’ve never had anything like it before. I need to review this again, or rather sit down with it and take careful notes. There was a lot going on.
And I assume it was a green, but I left my postcard at work so need to verify. I could be wrong, it may be oolong. The profile was too sweet for oolong, IMO, and it had a roasted element like hojicha, along with a similar sweetness to hojicha, which leads me to think green. Still, I could be mistaken.
Anyhow, there was also a drying sensation much like I’ve seen in Darjeeling or green puerh. If you ever got clay in your mouth as a kid, you know what I mean. It is a taste I remember even after many years.
I’ve never seen this combo of sweet roastiness vs clay before. It was fascinating and seriously scratched my “good tea” itch!
Oh and very smooth, even though I accidentally let the second infusion steep for ten minutes. And then had no problem getting two more infusions after that!! Barely a hint of astringency.
In the fourth infusion, I noticed a slight menthol sensation, but it slipped my mind to note down more about that as I was distracted by my meeting.
And now I need sleep.
An interesting one this is! I wish I knew what the base tea was. Maybe Tj gave me a card with it? I need to sort my bag.
Anyhow. A bit too astringent/sourish yet very easy to drink. The maple is more of an impression than a flavour note. I think that may be where the sourness comes from. It was ok, I didn’t mind that.
I couldn’t stop myself from going back for more infusions. I made it through four, each one better than the last. Fifth infusion is sitting in my fridge now. Noms!
Second infusion was good. I experimented and added a quarter teaspoon of smoked honey. it paired quite nicely, adding further depth and a touch of sweetness that enhanced the maple.
My fave so far is the last infusion, with the astringency giving way to a freshwater note that pairs really well with the faded smokiness. Overall a winner.
I got my gaiwan all ready and my water started for this tea, then opened the bag and poured…powder…out of it. Didn’t realize it was a ctc black! I didn’t really have my Western setup with me, so had to improvise with a kyusu.
The dry leaf smelled like Blackberry or prune, rum, and a bit of malt. After I put the tea in a warmed teapot, I got spicier notes, as well as some cherry and licorice.
The first steep, at 90s, was very dark in color and sorta frightened me. Thankfully it wasn’t bitter. Got woody notes and licorice along with some berry fruitiness. I also got rummy notes, and as the tea cooled, the spice became more apparent.
Second steep was 2m. It was drier and woodier with oak barrel and vanilla notes. It was also less fruity and I didn’t get any licorice.
Third steep was around 5m. It was weaker and a bit bitter, with light fruity echoes. Didn’t go beyond this, because as a ctc tea I don’t think it would have gotten any better with more steeps.
I think the best way to drink this tea would have been to Western it and just brew the fuck out of it for one good teapot of it. Maybe add small splash of milk.
Flavors: Berry, Fruity, Licorice, Malt, Oak, Rum
This was… interesting. Certainly not what I expected. Likely because the last time I bought tea from this guy, it was an aged oolong as well. This one was much sweeter, in a more maple way, and a bit thinner… and less oolongish. Not much complexity. Surprisingly little astringency, which intrigues me. I’d buy more just to experiment!
Overall, a pleasant cuppa. I won’t rate it because it’s been awhile since I purchased my sample and I don’t have a scale, so couldn’t measure out the 5 grams.
Also… this is my first CTC oolong. I wish I had more
For anyone interested in reading about Taiwanese Baozhong, may I point you to you TeaDB’s overview: http://teadb.org/baozhong. After many hours of jumping from one to another scant, often questionable or contradictory writeup about this tea, James’ post about Baozhong was quite the find, and I’ve edited this tasting note accordingly.
It was on Day 1 of the hunt that I learned that Baozhong, Pouchong, Baochong, Paozhong, and each of their two-word versions are all translations of the same Chinese character meaning “the wrapped kind,” since originally, and still occasionally today, the tea leaves were wrapped in paper. James referred to the paper as the packaging; Wikipedia said the paper was part of the drying process. Perhaps both.
Today, the tea marketed to a Western audience as Baozhong is almost always grown at 400-800m elevation in northern Taiwan. In the 1870s the tea came to Taiwan from directly across the China Sea in Fujian, China, where it continues to be grown. I might assume that this Sesame Baozhong was grown in Taiwan, simply because every tea called Baozhong that I’ve run into has been from Taiwan. But this tea seems to chart its own path. For all I know, it could be from Fujian or elsewhere.
As with the green oolong trend, seen with Dong Ding and Tieguanyin (other than Muzha TGY), Baozhong is most commonly offered as a green oolong—very green, James wrote, 5–20% oxidation—and is described along the lines of floral, buttery, sweet, vegetal.
Again, though, this Sesame Baozhong, does not follow the trend. After all, Andrew included it the 2016 Dark Matter group buy—no place for a green oolong! Instead, it seems the leaves were lightly roasted, yielding a soft but still full-flavored medium-light toastiness. (If I had more leaf, while sipping my next cup I’d be thinking about oxidation, and trying to tell the difference between oxidation and roasting.)
I didn’t see any sesame seeds in with the leaves, so I guess the “sesame” name means the leaves have been scented or otherwise flavored. James wrote that “the original Taiwanese Baozhong was scented for added fragrance, similar to Jasmine tea”; today the tea is offered both unscented (naturally floral, in its green oolong form) and is also commonly seen scented, usually with rose or jasmine. No flowers in this cup, though.
The combination of light roast and sesame blended into a savory-sweet nutty flavor that I found to be a quite pleasant session. I followed the parameters on the package: 205°F 2g 4oz 45/60/75 sec, and continued for another two steeps after the first three.
Here comes a passionate and longer than normal review.
Recently I was gifted 5 grams of some Temomi Shincha which was picked in April from Wazuka Kyoto. All these words means nothing to most because Japanese tea isn’t as drank or studied in the western community as Chinese and Indian teas. So what makes this so special? Well, first of all it is a first flush green tea from Japan; something that the western world had no access to for quite a while because it doesn’t stay fresh for long. Shincha and Sencha/gyokuro/tencha…. Have all become available to the market place due to the internet, but this is a little different: This particular tea is produced fully by hand and takes hours until it is finished; now that doesn’t mean it is better, but it does say something about the processing of the leaf. When it went to auction it hit $1400usd per kg! Due to that price and the supply/demand, World Tea Podcast only obtained 25g which means I was gifted 1/5th of what was there!!!
What a treat, the most expensive tea I’ll have drank to date and I look forward to it.
At first, I noticed the leaf was broken and that was to be expected with shipping and all that; I won’t let that stop me from brewing this up right though! Since my Yunomi purchase came in only 2 days later, I was able to use this unique kyusu which makes it even more enjoyable because I was able to get over 7 infusions out of the 5g; this is a lot for a Japanese green tea. Here’s an ‘eh’ video of the beginning of the session which I ended up taking outside after a few steeps: https://www.instagram.com/p/BHQNcmmguTD/
Now the first steep was like straight tea clipping… imagine a lawn mower just ran over the tea plants and shot everything into your mouth. Fresh leaf and incredibly vibrant. After that, things changed a bit because I started to introduce my new way of drinking Japanese tea. Let me explain because I hope I can help others find a new way to drink green tea.
Step 1, put your tongue at the roof of your mouth
Step 2, pour the liquid toward the bottom of your mouth and let the liquid hit your inner cheeks before your tongue
Step 3, compare to drinking directly to tongue at first
What I find this method to do is avoiding the upfront astringency that can eliminate any undertone sweetness. With high quality Japanese tea I have found a freshly picked honeysuckle taste to come out from the grass while the buttery texture is created; try it for yourself, something about the liquid being at the bottom of your mouth than the top makes the liquid seem to have more of a viscosity.
Now this tea was very gentle and subtle with fresh grass taste while keeping the vegetable notes in the background, but with the way I drank it…. There was a texture to the liquid and a mild sweetness that popped out towards the end. Towards the end of my session, I began to find the more seaweed and cucumber notes. This tends to occur when I am brewing leaf that is about to die. Something about little to no flavor ends up resulting in a small amount of cucumber as if the tea is fading and light cooling notes are left.
In the end, would I pay almost $5 a gram for this? Heck no. However, I can say that this was quite a nice experience. It’s like Whit2Tea Last Thoughts in the sense that you’re tasting purely what is meant to be tasted, there’s no deviation of taste coming from the production. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can find it with really high end Darjeeling teas but you have to go through quite a few until you find them. This was a great experience and I was surprised that I was able to get a good 7 steeps out of it. Tasty leaf that gave me all the right vibes that this was carefully produced.
From the 2016 Dark Matter series.
I’ve been playing video games all weekend since I’ve caught up on homework, so I was trying to avoid “serious” tea sessions. However, after reading a few reviews, I figured it’d be time to try this. Unfortunately, I hadn’t written much while giving it a go. I was most likely preoccupied this afternoon when drinking it.
1st steep: Not much happening. Very light nutty/roasted note. Heat water to 195F instead of 175F (I must’ve thought, “Smells like Genmaicha, so I must brew it at a lower temperature”).
2nd Steep: Really tasting that oolong base. A little bite of sesame seed laced with roasted honey (?).3rd steep: Really getting into the flavor. Reminds me of a Genmaicha, but with the roasted Oolong notes that really bring out the straw and sesame notes. Very sweet roasted oolong notes.
That’s all I had written. So, that’s all I’ll write now.
P.S. I had finally beaten Uncharted 2 yesterday. I must say that this game series is quite enjoyable.
Flavors: Honey, Roasted, Straw
From dark matter 2016:
Of all the Dark Matter teas I’ve tried so far this has been possibly the most enjoyable and of course it’s the one with only 2 grams, little to now information on it, and no way of buying more. That’s what I get for not sticking with tea bags I guess. This tea smelled a little strange when I opened it like some type of candy (havlah maybe?). Brewed, it smelled a little like toasted sesame oil. There was a noticeable light toasty flavor without the char I’ve been getting in the roasted oolongs I’ve tried recently. It was floral and a little fruity and the end of the sip was a dry creamy flavored finish. I steeped this about 7 or so times with good results then continued to steep very weak steeps after that refusing to let go.
Flavors: Creamy, Toasty
From Dark Matter 2016
It’s suddenly changed to being cold and dreary today so I thought it would be a good time to try this tea. I saw a few recommendations to brew this western style and upon opening the package I see the tea is small broken leaves so I definately wanted to use my For Life brew mug. The tea itself is dark and uniform, nothing appeared to be added. The smell was sweet and spicy and reminded me of either a pastry or spice mix I had once. I can’t quite place the memory, isn’t that infuriating?
To prevent bitterness I only brewed 3 minutes. The tea itself is rich and malty with a bit of chocolate and chestnuts. There’s a bit of spice at the beginning and also an end note much like the smell. I imagine that’s the rum? I have no idea what that tastes like…but it’s very good. I ended up with almost no bitterness or astringency, it was very smooth. I guess you really need to watch your brewing times with this one.
SUPER BITTER, but the flavor is interesting. It’s like a woodsy rum chai. Even after a five second flash steep it was bitter. I had to add creamer and it was pleasant. I’m honestly not going to finish a cup because of the astringency. Even the coffee I have is less bitter and roasted…but that coffee is rum, caramel, butterscotch flavored.
I’m glad I tried it, and it certainly woke me up this morning because it was a kick in your pants tea.
I’ve been wanting to finally start drinking/reviewing the teas from the Dark Matter 2016 series; therefore, I decided that this would be a good one to start my day with before heading to the Asian Market in Cleveland, Ohio. My wife and her friend had planned this mini trip a few weeks ago, and were hoping that I’d go, too. It was pretty swell, if I must say so. We ate plenty of great food, as well as ventured throughout the markets there.
Anyway, the tea was okay. I’m not too into black teas anymore, unless they’re flavored or have cream/sugar in them. The aroma to the dry leaf was pretty splendid, though. It had a nice malty, rum, sweet—almost vanilla—scent. However, the flavor was alright. I gave it three steeps before quitting.
Overall, the tea was pretty malty with a nice rum aftertaste. I just prefer something other than a black tea. I think this would’ve been better Western style brewing, for 3 minutes, with a splash of cream. However, it wasn’t something that I’d consider unique enough to want more of.
Side Note: I was able to try some solid Asian cuisine: Beef and Tripe Soup (
Some lovely pastries from Koko’s Bakery (
And came home with plenty of tea and snacks for the week (https://www.instagram.com/p/BEjhgiqA—E/)!
Flavors: Malt, Rum
So I pull out this, W2T Last Thoughts. And some 1991 oolong… My friend picked this out; damn coffee people liking their strong bitter teas!
Anyways, the first three steeps had a nice rum taste to it and yes it smells better than it taste… But it’s a fun tea.
I’m not a fan of this type of black tea so I sipped a little . My friend really enjoyed it though which makes me happy. I always try to spread my enjoyment of tea to others because after all I believe it’s a healthy thing to so; set time aside to relax and sip on something that taste good and also provides and experience.
P.S. typing reviews on a phone is not easy
I used the whole 2.2g of this sample from Dark Matter 2016 in my new 60mL gaiwan with 200 degree water. The dry leaves had a light sesame smell but were not particularly aromatic. Once they were wet however, the intense smell of toasted sesame with a slight fruit undertone was present in the aroma.
I didn’t rinse this one – I did steeps of 12s, 10s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 35s, 45s, 1m, 1.5m, 3m, 5m.
The first steep tasted like sweet toasty sesame with a subdued fruity aftertaste. The second steep, which may have been my favorite, exploded with a sweet creaminess that reminded me of vanilla the instant I took a sip. Steeps 3-4 were a sweet nutty flavor with a creamy fruit finish and just a bit of sweet spiciness that stayed in the mouth after the sip. The rest of the steeps were rather uniform with sweet nutty/sesame taste followed by a fruity finish. The fruit may have been raspberry, but I don’t know if I would have said that if it hadn’t been listed in the tasting notes on the bag. The nice and slightly creamy texture persisted through all of my steeps, though it did become just a bit weaker in the final ones.
This is a tea I might buy 50-100g of if it were available in those quantities, but it was interesting to try nonetheless. It didn’t really remind me of the only other Baozhong that I have tried at all. Also, why’s it called “5ample gram” if there’s 2g in the bag? Not a big deal, just confused me a bit.
Flavors: Creamy, Fruity, Nutty, Spicy, Sweet, Toasted, Vanilla
The dry leaf actually smells like rum or brandy, which is something I’ve never smelt in tea before. Leaves are like fannings so infuse quickly. I opted for shorter infusions than the recommended 1 minute. During tasting, the rum is less overpowering and very pleasant, with some wood and spice alongside.