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Recent Tasting Notes
This was another of my more recent sipdowns. This tea was interesting in that I did not know what to expect out of it, yet it ended up being tremendously enjoyable for me. I would venture to say that this is my current favorite Wuyi Shui Xian. Would anyone have guessed that a Tong Mu Shui Xian would ever become my favorite?
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 19 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, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, pine, baked bread, malt, charcoal, and smoke as well as a subtle blueberry scent. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and roasted barley as well as even stronger scents of smoke and charcoal and subtler scents of grass and straw. The first infusion introduced aromas of rock sugar, black cherry, and blackberry. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of pine, roasted peanut, baked bread, malt, charcoal, roasted barley, smoke, and black cherry that were balanced by subtler impressions of grass, blackberry, straw, cinnamon, and dried blueberry before a long, cooling herbal finish took hold. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of caramel, strawberry, orange zest, ash, butter, pear, juniper, moss, and minerals. Roasted almond notes came out in the mouth alongside slightly amplified impressions of straw and grass and hints of rock sugar. Mineral, butter, cream, caramel, strawberry, raisin, cocoa, earth, juniper, moss, ash, nutmeg, orange zest, butterscotch, and pear notes were also evident. I even picked up on some hints of roasted hazelnut and toasted rice. Each swallow left an absolutely gorgeous, relaxing cooling sensation in the mouth that remains impossible for me to accurately describe. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and began to emphasize notes of minerals, moss, earth, grass, roasted barley, pine, roasted peanut, malt, and cream that were balanced by subtler notes of roasted almond, straw, baked bread, toasted rice, raisin, charcoal, black cherry, orange zest, cinnamon, and caramel as well as some late arriving vanilla impressions before the pleasant cooling sensation returned and once again took over after each swallow.
This was an absolutely incredible tea. There is no other way for me to describe it. I loved that it offered some more unique aromas and flavors compared to some of the other Wuyi Shui Xian oolongs I have tried in recent months, and I also was extremely impressed by the depth, texture, complexity, and balance of its liquor. It even threw in a few surprises during the second half of my gongfu session, impressions that I could not find on the nose but were certainly there in the mouth. This was just a superb offering. I wish I had purchased more of it now that it seems to be gone forever.
Flavors: Almond, Ash, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Butterscotch, Caramel, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Grass, Hazelnut, Herbaceous, Malt, Mineral, Moss, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Raisins, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Straw, Strawberry, Sugar, Toasted Rice, Vanilla
This was the last of the three Wuyi Origin Shui Xian that I finished a little earlier in the month. Unfortunately, I did not know much of anything about this tea prior to working my way through what I had of it, and I still know virtually nothing about it. I know I purchased it sometime in 2017. I’m pretty certain it was part of my first order from Wuyi Origin. I do not recall whether this was a 2016 or 2017 tea, but I seem to recall it being sourced from Da Shui Keng. I could be wrong about that though. Anyway, this was an awesome Wuyi Shui Xian. I wish I knew more about it.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 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, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, cedar, pine, straw, smoke, charcoal, and black raspberry. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, roasted almond, cannabis, mushroom, and earth. The first infusion introduced a clear aroma of roasted barley and subtler scents of orchid and dried blueberry. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, malt, cedar, pine, straw, charcoal, smoke, baked bread, honey, and roasted almond that were balanced by hints of dried blueberry, black raspberry, cannabis, orchid, and roasted barley. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of plum, minerals, orange zest, baked bread, nutmeg, black cherry, honey, and blackberry. I also picked up a stronger and more clearly defined orchid fragrance and some fleeting hints of narcissus here and there. Notes of earth, mushroom, and roasted peanut came out in the mouth alongside slightly stronger impressions of roasted barley, orchid, and black raspberry. I also picked up on notes of pear, grass, nutmeg, black cherry, blackberry, minerals, caramel, orange zest, peach, lychee, plum, moss, hibiscus, and rock sugar as well as hints of narcissus pollen that were most noticeable in the aftertaste. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized notes of minerals, earth, malt, baked bread, roasted barley, grass, charcoal, mushroom, and roasted almond that were underscored by hints of cannabis, straw, pine, black cherry, moss, dried blueberry, hibiscus, pear, orchid, plum, and black raspberry before a cooling, somewhat herbal aftertaste that faded to reveal a subtle steamed rice impression.
This tea did not quite display the staying power of the 2017 Shui Xian (Narcissus), but it was a more consistently engaging and less predictable offering with a somewhat better afterglow. I ended up loving both, but honestly, I would pick this one over the other tea if I absolutely had to pick between the two. This one struck me as being more fun to drink.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cannabis, Caramel, Cedar, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Earth, Grass, Hibiscus, Honey, Lychee, Mineral, Moss, Mushrooms, Narcissus, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plums, Raspberry, Rice, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Straw, Sugar
I have been so unmotivated lately. Granted, I have not had much time to do anything due to my work hours expanding, but when I have had free time, I have not been able to force myself to use it to contribute to Steepster. I’ve zapped some spammers here and there and have been reading the contributions of others, but I have not been posting any reviews of my own for the past 2+ weeks. With my backlog once again building back up, I figured I may as well take a moment to post something, so here goes.
This was a tea I finished a little earlier in the month. I went on a big Wuyi Shui Xian kick during the first couple weeks of December, sipping down several teas I had been wanting to try for some time. This was the first of the group to be finished and still sticks out in my mind as a quality tea. It was kind of a typical Banyan Shui Xian, but it delivered all of the expected characteristics of such teas with aplomb, so there is no reason for me to fault it. That being said, let’s move on to a more in-depth discussion of the tea itself.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 18 subsequent 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 tea leaves presented aromas of cinnamon, baked bread, malt, clove, black cherry, dried blueberry, and strawberry. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, cannabis, smoke, rock sugar, and charcoal. The first infusion introduced aromas of minerals and cocoa coupled with some subtle narcissus scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, malt, baked bread, rock sugar, mushroom, earth, smoke, charcoal, cannabis, roasted peanut, and narcissus (if you have ever been in a field of blooming daffodils on a windy day and have smelled and tasted the pollen in the air, you will understand this specific flavor component) that were balanced by hints of dried blueberry, cocoa, grass, straw, and minerals. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of orchid, grass, cedar, pine, earth, straw, butter, roasted barley, and juniper. Notes of clove came out in the mouth alongside hints of strawberry that grew stronger on each swallow and amplified notes of grass, straw, dried blueberry, and minerals. I also picked up flavors of orchid, juniper, pine, red apple, butter and plum as well as subtler sensations of black pepper (noticeable mostly on the back of the throat after each swallow), cream, vanilla, roasted barley, and cedar. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and began to emphasize mineral, roasted barley, malt, butter, baked bread, charcoal, and roasted peanut notes as well as a latecoming impression of toasted rice. Underlying hints of grass, smoke, cream, earth, vanilla, juniper, cinnamon, black cherry, rock sugar, strawberry, narcissus, and clove could still be detected, though they were almost always fleeting and elusive.
As Wuyi Shui Xian goes, this one produced a liquor that was very pleasant, and it also displayed respectable depth and longevity to go along with good body and texture in the mouth. It was clearly harvested and processed with great care and professionalism, and the obvious attention to detail on the part of this tea’s producer allowed its considerable gifts to shine. Though it was not the most surprising or intriguing Wuyi Shui Xian I have encountered to this point in my tea journey, it struck me as being one of the most lovingly crafted, and I could see it making an exceptional everyday tea for more experienced Wuyi oolong drinkers.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Black Pepper, Blueberry, Blueberry, Butter, Butter, Cannabis, Cannabis, Cedar, Cedar, Char, Char, Cherry, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cinnamon, Clove, Clove, Cocoa, Cocoa, Cream, Cream, Earth, Earth, Grass, Grass, Herbaceous, Herbaceous, Malt, Malt, Mineral, Mineral, Mushrooms, Mushrooms, Narcissus, Narcissus, Orchid, Orchid, Peanut, Peanut, Pine, Pine, Plums, Plums, Red Apple, Red Apple, Rice, Roasted, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Smoke, Straw, Straw, Strawberry, Strawberry, Sugar, Sugar, Vanilla, Vanilla
Figured I’d do a comparison tasting with another Lapsang Souchong that Togo so kindly swapped with me. The one I reviewed last night from Tao Tea Leaf was likely old and very different in character, striking me as similar to a Laoshan black but much more muted.
This one from Wuyi Origin has blown me away and further emphasized my adoration for Wuyi hongcha.
There is so much going on in this tea when prepared gongfu. Wild and fragrant dry leaf, penetrating aroma, clear liquor that’s light-bodied, excellently structured and full of flavor, the obvious Wuyi minerality, long layered aftertaste, warming and spicy in throat with a dark returning sweetness while cooling in chest. Good longevity and never misses a beat even with a few oversteeps. Lovely energy. Most importantly, the tea is clean.
Dry leaf smells of molasses, dried sour cherries, a light-colored wood, herbs, lemon, raspberry, forest floor. Warming the leaf brings forth osmanthus, eucalyptus, malt and cherry. The rinsed leaf smells more woody and earthy, though with a deep, dark pungency. Something about these aromas really stimulates my stomach.
In the mouth is an intense perfume and flavors of osmanthus, rose, guava jelly, peach, nectarine, apricot with cream after the swallow. Sweet minerality that cascades over the sides of the tongue and instantly tingles my salivary glands. Other notes include damp foggy forest, eucalyptus, cedar, pine, malt, lemon, baked bread, nuts (notably pecan), butter, dark red chili pepper, camphor, damp and rich forest floor with accompanying florals like violet and iris.
What a treat. I feel indebted to Togo. Fantastic job, Wuyi Origin.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Camphor, Cedar, Cherry, Cream, Dried Fruit, Eucalyptus, Floral, Flowers, Forest Floor, Fruity, Guava, Herbs, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Molasses, Nuts, Osmanthus, Peach, Pecan, Pine, Rainforest, Raspberry, Spicy, Tangy, Violet, Wood
This is a tasty Mi Lan Xiang. It has an awesomely pungent scent, but unfortunately the taste pales in comparison. The liqour is viscous and very oily. For the main infusions, it has a full body and a bubbly texture to it.
The smell is initially mineral, very sweet and fruity, the closest to it may be a mix of nectarine and guava scent. In a preheated vessel, I also notice woody and flowery aromas. Once wet, the leaves smell more earthy but retain a sweet woody character. As for the taste, I find it hard to place, but it is definitely quite mineral with a floral bitterness in the finish. I catch some fleeting flavours of red apples, hay, apricots and later on in the session also various flowers.
All in all, this is not a Dan Cong that would wow me like some others do, but it’s a pleasant one to drink for sure.
Flavors: Apricot, Earth, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Hay, Mineral, Nectar, Red Apple, Stonefruits, Sweet, Wet Rocks, Wood
This dancong oolong seems to have been pretty heavily roasted and is still hanging on to that character. Beyond the roastiness is a dark honeyed taste with grilled yellow nectarine secondary note weaving in and out, burnt sugar, hints of orange blossom, metallic, alkaline. Dark honey aftertaste. Texture never caught me, maybe on the thin side.
This tea is much heavier both in taste and the way it sits in my stomach than the Song Zhong I had recently. The Chi Ye also has a deeper bitterness and the astringency comes in early. The bitterness is its own entity, not integrated well with the sweetness. Body heavy and brain fuzzy energy. The overall weightiness combined with exhaustion had me stop at 4 steeps with the intention of brewing it out the following day, but I didn’t really find myself looking forward to it.
I don’t know the harvest/roast year but maybe this tea needs more time for the roasty char notes to settle. As it is, this Chi Ye is an ok tea but doesn’t jive with me, hence the lower rating.
Flavors: Bitter, Burnt Sugar, Char, Drying, Honey, Metallic, Orange Blossom, Roasted, Stonefruits, Sweet
Togo did a great review for this tea. He got more out of it than me but that doesn’t mean I didn’t really enjoy this dancong oolong.
Lovely tropical and white/yellow nectarine aroma. This tea tastes like the essence of ruby red grapefruit with honey and a touch of butter. Bright and light but heavy and bittersweet at the same time. Smooth and light-textured in the mouth later turning oily. Long grapefruit and wafting white floral aftertaste.
It has the expected dancong bitterness but it doesn’t feel separate from the sweetness and fruitiness. Even though the dominant flavor note for me is grapefruit, the bitterness isn’t like citrus pith. Practically no astringency unlike some others I’ve had. A little sour and highly mineral, tasting like glass if that makes any sense? Really good roast and no bright green unoxidized leaf in the spent material. The cha qi left me fuzzy but with a lot of energy such that I found myself mowing the lawn all of a sudden despite feeling ill for most of yesterday.
A refined, balanced dancong to change my mind about dancong. Recommended if you like the taste of ruby red grapefruit.
Interesting that this tea went from China to Colorado to Ontario then landed with me in California :P
[7g, 100mL clay gaiwan, 200F, drank rinse, flash steeps starting at 7s, good longevity]
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cream, Flowers, Fruity, Grapefruit, Guava, Herbs, Honey, Mineral, Nutty, Peach, Roasted, Stonefruits, Sweet, Tart, Tropical, Vanilla, Wood
I’m drinking the Qi Lan 2018 harvest of this from WuYiOrigin.com. The dry leaf smell on this is incredible. Orchid scent and fruity but also rich and dark like a brownie and it makes you wish you could eat the tea. This batch is highly aromatic. When pouring the rinse into the glass pitcher, I could smell it a couple of feet away. The wash from the rinse smells floral and a little smokey. The wet leaves smell great, too. I was expecting to smell roasted notes, but it’s not in the least. What I get is the strong orchid aroma and some grapefruit tanginess in the aroma.
The first infusion is very sweet and delicate. The orchid aroma is so strong, it permeates the tea taste. Not all teas taste like they smell, but this one carries it off. Smelling the lid, I get what I would describe as something similar to buttered popcorn. That doesn’t appear anywhere else. The wet leaves don’t have it. The liquor doesn’t have it, and I definitely do not taste it.
Second infusion and the unexpected buttered popcorn is no longer to be found on the lid. The wet leaves still smell heavily perfumed. Wow! I mean this is knock your socks off perfume heavy. Tea liquor is a light amber color. Super sweet in the mouth. Still comes across as delicate and thinner, which for this heady orchid scent works well. It’s very smooth and not watery at all, but it is not very thick and viscous. After swallowing, there is some menthol cooling effect and the mouth remains very wet. It is not a drying tea. The aftertaste lingers with the orchid aroma and a little bit of the grapefruit tang. It’s definitely heavily sugared grapefruit and not sour in any way.
Third infusion – losing a little orchid aroma now. The leaves smell slightly more roasted but the orchid aroma is still very much present. The tea is delicious. The taste is remaining constant. This is a tea that should be enjoyed slowly, I think. The orchid perfume is so dominate, it can act much like a strong perfume or cologne on a person, and can be overwhelming if not careful. I can get a headache from some colognes and so taking it slow keeps the aroma from becoming overwhelming. Slowing down also gives one the opportunity to enjoy this tea’s long lasting aftertaste.
I went back and put my nose back into the dry leaves bag, and it is so awesomely good. Where the tea stays in the higher perfume register, the dry leaves go richer and darker.
Fourth infusion — just amazed at how long the sweet orchid aroma is lasting. It just keeps giving. Very long lasting aftertaste.
I recommend this one heartily. It’s a winner.
Flavors: Char, Floral, Fruity, Grapefruit, Orchid, Sweet
Teas like this are the reason I love Dan Cong, although I am not that often in the right mood for it. These teas are attention seekers. If you are in the right state of mind to let go, they grab you and take you on a roller-coaster ride through the land of flavours you never knew existed.
Anyway, I have to thanks the extremely generous Peter Jones from Trident cafe in Boulder, who gave me this tea along with a few other Dan Congs sourced by Wuyi Origin (I believe). The complexity of this Song Zhong is absolutely phenomenal. If I had to place it, I would say it is slightly on the fruitier side of the spectrum as far as particular notes are concerned. However, in terms of broader taste profile, it is very balanced actually.
It is a full bodied tea with a velvety and slick texture that’s very smooth to drink, also thanks to being slightly less viscous. The cha qi is very focusing and somewhat calming yet strong. I feel the blood through my vein, I am swimming through the waves of music, I am falling through space.
Ok, now here are a few specific notes that I picked up. I don’t think they paint a very coherent picture of the tea, but that’s common with these teas that are super complex. The dry leaves from afar smell like guava, but when I come closer, it’s more like papaya and nectarine, but nevertheless quite a tropical smell. In a preheated gaiwan, I can also smell cream. During the session, I also get a petrichor scent complemented by aromas of fermented fruits, agar wood and later on popcorn. The liquor itself smells of peach and various flowers.
The 80°C rinse is very mineral with herbal bitterness. There are flavours of flowers (lavender), red soil, cape gooseberry (physalis) and I can taste longan in the aftertaste. In the actual infusions, there is more sweetness and the cape gooseberry returns often. Second steep is slightly earthy with a roasted nut note and a sour finish. The aftertaste is mineral, drying in mouth, and very cooling in throat. It has flavours of almond, lychee, apricot, cloves and a strong huigan.
New flavours keep appearing basically in every infusion, including ones of bread crust, nut grass, flowers I am not even going to try to pinpoint (because I cannot), persimmon, basil, guava and grapefruit skin. The tea has often a nectar like, syrupy feel to it, but the sweetness and bitterness are well balanced.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylTY9WbMGDc
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Berry, Bitter, Cloves, Cream, Dark Wood, Drying, Earth, Flowers, Fruity, Grapefruit, Grass, Guava, Herbs, Lavender, Lychee, Mineral, Nectar, Peach, petrichor, Pleasantly Sour, Popcorn, Roasted nuts, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet, Tropical
I got this Wild Lapsang in Boulder at the Trident cafe. It is definitely up there with the other premium black teas I have tried recently and has a distinctive character of its own. Specifically, it is an incredibly fragrant and floral black tea, at times reminiscent of red jade black teas.
The smell is very deep and complex, I find it hard to describe or compare. There are aromas of tomato vine and various spices and herbs. The taste is well balanced with savoury and bitter flavours complementing the natural sweetness. There are notes of bread crust, pecan skins and rock sugar. Aftertaste is long and very fragrant. The main flavours are those of wood, incence and beeswax. The weakest aspect of this tea is the mouthfeel I think. It’s not bad, but nothing exceptional either.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Floral, Herbs, Nuts, Pecan, Spices, Sugar, Wood
This was a more recent sipdown of mine as I finished what I had of this tea back around the beginning of the month. I’m normally not huge on Xing Ren Xiang Dan Cong oolongs and will not often go out of my way to spend money on them, but I received a free 8g sample of this tea with a Wuyi Origin order in the spring and finally ran out of reasons to put off trying it during the first week of the month. Though I did not find it to be a perfect offering, it still kind of blew me away. This was easily the most powerful Xing Ren Xiang Dan Cong I have tried.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 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, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of almond, cream, and custard that were underscored by hints of orchid and citrus. After the rinse, I noted a much stronger orchid aroma as well as scents of orange blossom, vanilla, and geranium. The first infusion brought out aromas of pineapple, peach, and tangerine that were underscored by subtle rose scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, vanilla, almond, tangerine, orange blossom, orchid, pineapple, and geranium that were chased by hints of rose, peach, violet, and grass. The subsequent infusions brought out violet, grass, wood, and nutmeg aromas. Stronger and more immediate rose, peach, violet, and grass notes appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging custard notes and new impressions of nutmeg, wood, minerals, steamed milk, and pear. I also noted hints of blackberry, cucumber, honeydew, and roasted chestnut. The bulk of the infusions also saw the tea liquor finish very dryly with pronounced notes of almond and wood in the aftertaste. By the end of the session, the tea liquor was offering impressions of minerals, grass, cucumber, cream, steamed milk, almond, and wood that were chased by subtler notes of roasted chestnut, vanilla, pear, and tangerine before the expected dry finish that saw impressions of wood and almond reassert themselves.
Though this tea displayed a consistently dry, astringent finish, it was very enjoyable nonetheless. I have a feeling the astringency was due primarily to the tea’s youth anyway. Otherwise, this was a mostly nutty, creamy, fruity, and floral tea, one that produced a liquor with exceptional depth, complexity, and longevity. The other teas of this type I have tried do not really compare to it. Check this one out if you are looking for a quality Xing Ren Xiang Dan Cong.
Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Blackberry, Chestnut, Citrus, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Geranium, Grass, Honeydew, Milk, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Rose, Vanilla, Violet, Wood
Here is a review for another fairly recent sipdown of mine. I finished the last of this tea prior to attending a concert with one of my best friends last week. The concert was pretty good. It was Harm’s Way, Hate Eternal, and Cannibal Corpse in Lexington, KY. Aside from Harm’s Way really sucking hard (unless you’re into tough guy metallic hardcore with some groove metal and superficial industrial elements), the rest of the show was great, even though it was a brutally cold, snowy night and the mosh pit got way too rough and rowdy. I am pretty sure that this tea kept me awake during the proceedings since I was exhausted, slightly sick due to sinusitis, and had to endure a very lengthy, taxing drive to get to my friend’s house prior to attending this shindig. Anyway, getting back on track here, my appreciation of this tea grew considerably as I worked my way through what I had of it. This was a Tong Mu Guan old tree black tea, one that was even subtler and more richly textured than most. Generally, I am more about Wuyi black teas that are bigger on aroma and flavor, so I tend to appreciate many of these texture-heavy old tree black teas more than I tend to outright enjoy them, but in the end, I came to love this one.
I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 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, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves (this tea was produced from an absolutely fantastic picking, by the way) emitted aromas of straw, honey, blueberry, blackberry, pine, and stone fruit. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted peanut and roasted almond that were underscored by subtler scents of grass and smoke. The first infusion did not offer anything new on the nose aside from slightly stronger grass and smoke undertones. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of straw, pine, honey, blueberry, and blackberry that were chased by impressions of roasted almond and roasted peanut along with some hints of grass, citrus, and smoke. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of citrus, bamboo, rose, roasted chestnut, malt, and baked bread. Impressions of orange, cedar, rose, cherry, beeswax, roasted chestnut, roasted walnut, cream, golden raisin, bamboo, brown sugar, malt, and baked bread appeared in the mouth along with subtle hints of grass and cinnamon. By the end of my review session, I could still detect notes of minerals, golden raisin, baked bread, malt, and straw that were chased by hints of orange, pine, bamboo, and roasted chestnut.
This was a ridiculously sophisticated, layered black tea that demonstrated tremendous restraint despite its almost over-the-top complexity and depth. Like the other Tong Mu old tree black teas I have tried, it consistently emphasized its mineral-heavy texture over its flavor components, meaning that I had to push myself to determine what was going on for me flavorwise. Just to be clear, teas like this are, in my mind, more meant for patient, measured, highly focused sipping than any form of quick, easy consumption as they require time, patience, and effort to appreciate. In my opinion, this tea was more challenging than your normal Tong Mu old tree black, but it had more to offer and thus a considerably larger payoff for the drinker. In the end, all I can really offer is that I found this to be a more or less great black tea, but it was something of a challenge. I would recommend it to anyone who has tried a number of similar teas and is looking for something more advanced.
Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Bamboo, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Cherry, Chestnut, Cinnamon, Cream, Grass, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Peanut, Pine, Raisins, Rose, Smoke, Straw, Walnut
Alright, here is the final review from the backlog for the day. I finished a 25g pouch of this tea back around the third week of June. At the time, it was a tea I did not know much about, and unfortunately, I still know very little about it. I forgot to save or jot down production information for this tea before it went out of stock. All I know is that it was a spring 2016 tea, likely harvested in May, and most likely originating from a garden in either the Banyan or Zhengyan area. It seems that most of Wuyi Origin’s offerings come from one of those areas. I know that their 2018 Baijiguan is a Zhengyan tea, but since they source from both areas, I have no clue if the same can be said of this earlier offering. It seems likely, but I cannot be sure. Regardless, I found this to be an extremely high quality Bai Ji Guan. Like most Bai Ji Guans, I would not want to have it every day, but I could see this making a more or less dynamite special occasions kind of tea.
Predictably, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 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, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of roasted grain, rock sugar, mushroom, honey, and raisin. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, watercress, longan, and wood. The first infusion brought out some faint dandelion and rose aromas along with a stronger mushroom aroma and hints of roasted chestnut and orange peel. In the mouth, the tea liquor opened with notes of roasted grain, mushroom, honey, and golden raisin before transitioning to showcase longan, wood, and roasted nut notes. Cream, butter, and rock sugar impressions then made themselves known on the finish. Interestingly, I failed to pick up any vegetal character. The subsequent infusions saw cream, butter, hay, and celery aromas begin to appear. Dandelion, watercress, orange peel, and rose notes belatedly appeared in the mouth alongside new mineral, coriander, hay, moss, lemon zest, popcorn hull, umami, grass, carrot, sour plum, and caramel impressions. The final infusions were soft, smooth, and subtle, offering lingering salty, brothy umami, mineral, cream, butter, roasted peanut, popcorn hull, wood, and golden raisin notes underscored by fleeting notes of coriander, mushroom, celery, lemon zest, and caramel.
I know the above description made this tea sound weird, but to be perfectly honest, Bai Ji Guan is kind of a weird tea. Fortunately, the strange combination of floral, savory, earthy, nutty, vegetal, fruity, creamy, buttery, and sugary sweet characteristics that this sort of tea typically offers works most of the time. I know that everything worked wonderfully in this tea. I would not recommend that a tea like Bai Ji Guan be one’s first Wuyi oolong, but if you just have to jump in the deep end with a tea of this type, an offering like this would be one with which to do it. Even though I swore that I would not spend any more money on tea this year, I now may have to use part of my next paycheck to acquire the 2018 Bai Ji Guan offered by Wuyi Origin. I just have to see how it compares.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Caramel, Carrot, Celery, Chestnut, Coriander, Cream, Dandelion, Fruity, Grain, Grass, Hay, Honey, Lemon Zest, Mineral, Moss, Mushrooms, Orange, Peanut, Plums, Popcorn, Raisins, Rose, Sugar, Umami, Vegetal, Wood
A really nice black tea in an unusual, very pleasant style. Some of their teas are on the sweeter, fruitier side and this version was like that. Initially it tasted more like fruit in the range of peach than last year’s, which had included more citrus, which transitioned later to a creamy range that reminded me a lot of butterscotch. Some of the flavor range is common to other black teas, a very mild form of malt, and some underlying mineral, but it’s a lighter, sweeter, more refined form of tea than most black tea versions. Other above average unsmoked Lapsang Souchong versions I’ve tried usually taste more like a mild malt, maybe with some sweetness and complexity, but typically not the same level of fruit and overall range as this one. That pretty much covers it but there is more detail here:
A nice version of this type. It does taste like almonds, but also with floral aspects underlying that, and an initial peach-like fruit transitioning to a general creaminess and liqueur-like effect later on. Astringency is minimal, just enough to add to fullness of feel. Aftertaste (long finish) and pronounced aroma stand out most. Good sweetness and balance indicate the level of roast worked out well, perhaps medium for Dan Cong, light related to other roasted tea styles. More review details and photos here:
This is as good a version of this oolong type as I’ve tried, with intense peach, lychee, and floral flavors, a thick mouthfeel, and a pronounced aftertaste effect. There’s minimal astringency, not really any astringency in the typical sense, not even much in the way of that unripe fruit effect Dan Cong sometimes have, just enough of that particular mouthfeel effect to give it some structure. Usually this version of Dan Cong can exhibit great flavors but it’s nice that this one is more complex in other regards as well. I wrote a long version of that in this post: http://teaintheancientworld.blogspot.com/2018/05/wuyi-origin-old-bush-mi-lan-xiang-dan.html
(If you don’t want to read my thoughts, skip down to the last three paragraphs for flavor notes.)
I’m under the impression that most of us in the West have yet to experience really good white tea. For whatever reason, white teas just aren’t popular outside the Chinese cultural realm. And Westerners who practice gongfu-stlyle tea drinking gravitate towards oolong, black, pu’er, and green teas.
White tea is comparatively more subtle, which requires more attention from the tea drinker to appreciate its nuances. You’d be hard pressed enough patience in a post-modern Western society to generate a market for something as soft-spoken as authentic Fujian white tea.
I think of white tea as naked tea. It cannot impress with flavor and aroma alone like, say, an Assam black tea or Taiwanese high mountain oolong. Therefore, leaf quality and skilled processing will have to speak for themselves – which my fellow sheng pu’er drinkers understand can be expressed via: mouthfeel, aftertaste, sensations (cooling/tingling/silky), viscosity, qi, and throat / body feel.
Cindy emphasized the strength of this tea, and I can see why. I haven’t had a white tea like this before. This tea has all of the above, including strong aroma (ripened peach and pear and fresh chamomile flowers) and subtle, sophisticated flavors (Korean pear, chamomile, sweet grass, raw sugar cane juice, and a hint of nutmeg).
What’s really incredible about this tea is it’s very strong mouthfeel, which combined with qi will take the drinker for a nice euphoric ride. The leaves are quite green and non-uniform compared with regular silver needle – which to me makes them more attractive.
I drank this at work with a tumbler and at home using a gaiwan. Maybe my office’s water filter was recently switched, but I enjoyed my office session a lot more. I had to actually step away from drinking it because the combo of qi and mouthfeel was so intense. It made the world stop for a moment.
This is the kind of green tea I’ve been looking forward to all winter. I sort of internally celebrate each year’s harvest – it’s really my chance to experience different tea regions. Based on the description, this one is from Zheng He county in Fujian, where Cindy sources her Advanced Bai Mu Dan white tea. I think it shares many similarities with that tea.
The dry leaf aroma is intoxicating – ripe fruit and orchids. It has good structure to it – beyond just flavors, as it’s more subtle than other green teas, with a sweetness that is closer to mineral than vegetal. It somewhat resembles the Laoshan imperial green tea (of which I am a fan) in appearance and Huangshan maofeng in its flavor characteristics, but I this one wins in terms of qi, mouthfeel, and depth. It also feels more refined and can for at least 7 steeps.
For me, black teas need to be outstanding for me to bother with them. I just find other teas more agreeable taste-wise. This was one of those exceptional black teas that has me coming back for more. It’s got that typical malty black tea thing, but there’s so much more going on here. Very nice mouthfeel and feeling in the throat and body. It’s gentle, yet assertive in its uniqueness. Great depth and viscosity as well. The leaves look “wild” – spindly tendrils with a maocha-like appearance.
It’s highly fragrant, both dry and wet leaf – musky floral and sweet forest mist – and not smoky at all (huge plus in my book). This is reflected in the flavor, which has an intriguing character – mellow mineral sweetness with notes of dried cherries, wild flowers, molasses, and moss. This is one of those feel-good teas. Cindy has been sourcing these leaves and processing them herself for a long time. I think it’s this combination that makes this tea extra special. Black tea-lovers should definitely check out Wuyiorigin and try this one.
It was 81 degrees in Missouri yesterday. Today it is snowing! After reading so many good reviews I went ahead and placed my first order with Wuyi Origin and broke out this 2017 Rou Gui as the first to try!
The dry leaves smell amazing — a perfectly balanced roast. Very full bodied with strong cacao notes. The flavor is very complex with the typical minerality as its base. Citrusy finish of lemon zest that makes me smile. I brewed at 205 F, but would maybe consider taking it down to 200 next time around. Love the mouthfeel, super thick and oily and leaves a mouth watering menthol flavor all over the palate. After seven infusions the flavor seemed to be keeping steady but I could not go on. Peak flavor at the fourth steep (I will have dreams of that fourth steep!) with intertwining notes of cinnamon, tobacco, and lemon.
Glad I got this one. Am really interested in the Rou Gui “Fruit style” from them as well, but will have to wait till next time. Looking forward to trying the rest and seeing how they compare!
Ordered some of this based on tanluwils’ recommendation, was not disappointed! This is a somewhat tippier Bai Mudan. Tastes of dry grass, citrus, dried mint leaf, sugarcane, and musk. While I’ve already had a tea session this morning, so I can’t say that it’s all from this tea, I’m getting nice relaxing qi feelings. This is an excellent white tea!
Compared to Yunnan Sourcing’s Bai Mudan, this one is a little bit milder, and tastes more of citrus while YS’s tastes more of peach. Both are excellent, but I think I slightly prefer YS’s.
Today I am repotting my tea plants! It’s long overdue as they are almost two years old and have been in twelve inch pots for over a year. I think they will be much happier with more room to grow :)
Flavors: Citrus, Dry Grass, Floral, Lemon, Mint, Musty, Sugarcane
I open the bag, breath in the smells, and know immediately that I’m going to like this one! Dark whole leaves and aroma of raisins, tobacco, and a hint of smoke. Brews a little darker than the Rou Gui or Bairuixiang, medium orange.
The taste, like the aroma, has a nice raisin/date note as well as flavors of spiced rum, oatmeal, and dark wood. Just a touch of smoke, this tea also reminds me of nice cigars. The flavor lingers in the mouth and is super deep and complex. Really makes my mouth water. As I keep brewing, the flavor becomes lighter and a mild floral note appears. This tea fades faster than the Rou Gui, but gives a decent number of brews and the flavor hits really hard. I definitely need more of this tea!
Flavors: Dark Wood, Dates, Mineral, Oats, Raisins, Rum, Smoke, Spices, Tobacco
Opening the bag I get a roasty and sugary aroma. Reminds me a bit of kettle corn at the state fair. (In a good way) Brews a medium light orange, a bit lighter than the Rou Gui.
Very rich and thick in the mouth. Notes of rock sugar, caramel, minerals, roast, and flowers with a slight “green” quality. The floral note isn’t airy like jasmine, it’s more thick and heavy like bulb flowers; tulip or hyacinth. Besides sugar and caramel, the sweetness reminds me of a really good, really fresh, really sweet raw onion. That may sound like a turn off, but I mean it in the best way possible. This is a very nice tea, but not as much to my personal tastes as the Rou Gui.
Flavors: Caramel, Floral, Mineral, Popcorn