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Recent Tasting Notes
Imagine a Silver Needle white tea, but given the characteristic Wu Yi Oolong roast – Full, smooth, yammy, and ever so slightly vegetal.
Can’t find any sour notes in this one, but gets astringent with rest or overbrewing. Even just 45s is a bit long for this.
Flavors: Anise, Umami, Vegetal, Woody, Yams
12g from a sample added to a clay pot.
Warm smell was very enticing: baked chocolatey notes in the smell. I was salivating for the brew..
First steep: ripe perfection. Creamy, textured, rich, chocolatey, mildly sweet, with a touch of forest.
Second steep: Bliss! I literally moaned with delight. So thick and creamy and chocolatey and decadent. My god this tea is so good.
Third steep: Again ^. My mouth needed a reset I think to fully experience it in all it’s glory. It was still glorious, but slightly muted because I kind of rushed into the next steep. I did notice a fantastic aftertaste more this time around, too. “Hui Gan”
Fourth steep: pushed it after a little break, and it delivered a fantastic brew. It was more cacao and dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. More woody and foresty with chocolate around the edges, instead of the other way around.
Fifth steep: pushed it again for about 2 minutes. Pretty good brew that had downplayed versions of all the delicious notes in the earlier tea. It was enjoyable, but definitely the end of the sesh for me.
Great experience! Truly exceptional ripe here.
I bought a cake of this after really enjoying the sample. I cracked open the bing the morning after getting it without letting it rest or anything and it was also very very good. It wasn’t quite as decadent as the sample, so it needs a bit of time to get there. Glad I picked up a cake! (Now hopefully my dry environment doesn’t ruin it)
Because it’s a negative review, I’ll quickly state that this is definitely a good tea if very sweet and malty is pleasing to you. It’s a bit cloying and gross to me, though, hence the negative outcome. The processing technique looks great and the leaves are surely a high quality version of this tea.
Generally disappointed with the experience. I don’t really like the super malty and sweet taste that this tea has. It’s not really balanced by anything else, relative to my palate.
It doesn’t have a bready, starchy, baked goods, toasted, or even chocolatey kind of taste like some other blacks. It’s mostly that sweet malty taste, which I find slightly gross to be honest.
Letting this sit with some fresh air after opening the vacuum sealed bag did it a lot of good for me. Aromatics are great. More complexity and intrigue to both the smell and taste than the first session. Some of the missing notes started to show up, such as a baked starchiness and possibly a muted chocolatey note. The maltiness may have even diminished a tiny bit, but it was still dominant, especially in the hui gan. So each sip left a somewhat unenjoyable aftertaste in the mouth.
It’s just not for me, which is fine. I won’t get any more of it, but maybe I’ll continue to randomly drink the rest of the 100g bag until it’s gone. It may be that I like a more aged version of Dian Hong, so I’ll randomly come back to it as a very low priority option down the line. Maybe I’ll toss it, maybe I won’t. There are many other blacks that are better than this one to me.
Flavors: Malt, Sweet
It looks like and smells like a solid green tea, but the flavor is incredibly lacking and bitter. This reminds me of coffee, and is not what I want out of an oolong. It smells of ripe leaves and fresh grass, but the taste is very astringent.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Coffee
A very interesting pu-erh! Made of whole, rolled leaves that are olive-green once brewed. If I’m decoding the recipe “6515” correctly, they are considered grade 1 leaves, though I’m not entirely sure what that means! Importantly, this tea is highly compressed. “Brick“ is the right description, and in fact if you tap on one side, the entire block resonates and almost rings as a ceramic block might. There are two consequences to this: firstly, it is very difficult to pick apart the tea to withdraw a brewing portion without creating a lot of crumbs and breakage, the leaves are so crisp. But even so, the leaf pieces were pretty big, once infused. Secondly, the tight compaction slows the aging, and this may explain the youthful vigor of the resulting tea. Or, maybe the storage since 2004 was on the dry side.
Youthful vigor! The fragrance was mild and pleasant without perfume, flowery, or fishiness. A bit of mintiness. The liquor packed a punch with slight bitterness, strong astringency (is this called “brisk”?) with mint and camphor, and a lingering aftertaste of green tea and a drying mouthfeel. The sixth steep was much like the first, with progressively longer infusions, starting at 20s, up to 2 min. Enjoyable now as a good morning wake-up brew. But I bet this brick will taste much nicer in another 15 years, if stored humidly.
Flavors: Astringent, Camphor, Mint
Am running a little tea demo course and ordered teas from YS due to a very limited budget and bc I didn’t want to gamble with Verdant again lol. Anyway, have 6 teas, which I ran through today with a friend (more beginner to tea) over the course of 4 hours, and so these are quick impressions and transcribed from notes, and are somewhat haphazardly done.
2.0g, 60 mL gaiwan (really like it, but warning that practical volume is less), Brita filtered tap, 212f, quick rinse.
slight roast to dry leaves, though w/ a tad sour edge. Wet leaves had a very slight roast, very floral. I wish I could post pictures on here, but anyway, they looked very different from pictures. Quite green still, with slight oxidized edges, much like the dancong I had before, but even greener than that.
Decent texture, light sweetness, very floral and slightly fruity initially. One steep had a light astringency in mouth and throat, not a great feeling, something like when you get a sore scratchy throat and try to cough, though that was only for that one. Some sense of the crushed mint w/ vegetal edge. Soapy dry scent to leaves later. A hint of osmanthus, then crushed mint. Flatlined after maybe 7 steeps? Last kill steep had a slight bitterness and mint, nothing too exciting.
0.38c/g. I wasn’t too into this one, finding it too floral and somewhat boring, but my friend liked it.
I bet you Mf’s thought I was dead or something!! But I’m not!! lolol
This tea is really damn tasty! very rich and kinda sweet, like a yam rather than sweet potato to me. Thanksgiving is coming up maybe I’ll serve it with dinner?
Anyways it’s really good, like a magnolia dancong i’ve had before, floral but sweet, really rich to me, yammy sweetpotato’ish….it does kinda smell like sweet potato tho… Just go taste it yourself ya know..Yunnan Sourcing, Really Good Teas!!
Spring 2019. Easy to over brew and turns sour but with quick steeps the liquor is full bodied, sweet, and viscous. My favorite part of this tea is the lasting finish and exhale through the nose. True to the description it has hints of coffee, malt, and honey. Great everyday tea for me. I feel alert and can’t help but smile with this one. :)
Flavors: Coffee, Honey, Malt, Wood
Tastes like a slightly weaker and more astringent Drunk on Red, which isn’t a terrible place to be. Chocolate is prominent, but it’s drowned out by a somewhat camphorous taste I associate with Taiwanese blacks, as well as a very strong hibiscus note. I picked this up from the .us site when pickings were slim, and all things considered I’m happy with it.
I enjoy this tea and its formerly bitter flavor has mellowed considerably over the years. There is a floral bamboo fragrance to the tea with hints of olive, and orange. There are also some foresty flavors as well. Kind of light bodied, it is nevertheless complex and flavorful. I see that Yunnan Sourcing has a 2019 version as of this writing.
Flavors: Bamboo, Floral, Orange
From the TTB
I’ve tasted smoky oolongs before and floral oolongs before, but I cant quite remember when an oolong was both smoky and floral at the same time. I did short steeps to start, and the first few steeps had lots of smoky notes and a few floral, orchid notes. The subsequent steeps were mostly floral. This was an interesting, complex tea, almost like two different teas rolled into one.
Flavors: Char, Floral, Smoke
Another single serving of tea I removed from the Discovery tea box. I really had to look for those single servings in their own pouches so I would actually have room to add teas to the tea box. The leaves here are like those sickle shapes. I was a little worried that they wouldn’t have too much flavor, since the counterpart white tea that looks like these leaves also never has much flavor. But the flavor is fine enough. Light on flavor, yet complex for what is there. The mellow gold brew has flavors of sweet potato, plenty sweetness. The second steep at just boiled is even more deeper, even more sweet sweet potato flavor. I haven’t actually had this type of leaf yet from YS, so it’s a nice tea box find. This is like a not-too-light, not-too-dark black tea. It’s nice for a change of pace when I’m drinking black tea after black tea after black tea. My poor other teas are so neglected from my black tea addiction.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons for a full mug// 23 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 minute steep
Flavors: Sweet Potatoes
Reading the other reviews here, the one on Yunnan Sourcing’s website and comparing with my experience, this tea is a complex trickster.
I think I bought this tea in late 2017. First few attempts in early 2018 were terrible. Nothing but peanut shell in taste in aroma. I thought, “How odd to retain such an off-putting roast since this was processed in 2016.” I’ll be honest here. I played with the thought that was this was a fraudulent tea due to that, ugh, smell and it being touted as grown in Zhengyan reserve. I also have no problem admitting I’m a noob and forever learning, so a lot of my assumptions are probably wrong.So I transferred the tea from it’s shipping envelope into a glass jar with a cork stopper and moved it to the back of the drawer. I recently decided to try the Qi Dan again since I was finishing off older or unfavorable teas for new orders. Precious jar space, you know.
I don’t know if it was the result of storing the tea in a cork-topped glass jar or what, but this tea had a complete turnaround since the last time I brewed it in January.
According to Yunnan Sourcing, this Qi Dan is a cross between Qi Lan and Dan Gui, which is supposedly a cross of Da Hong Pao and Rou Gui. I’ve had a few different rou guis but neither has had the cinnamon aroma that the tea experts claim it should have. This Qi Dan definitely hit that mark, though. Mostly broken leaves released highly aromatic nutmeg, cassia, cinnamon, minerals and dry woodiness which all flowed through into the taste. Kind of a mission-figgy-sweetness and dried green herbs in afterthought. Camphor on the swallow. The qi lan comes through with a specific, strong aroma of orchid that quickly fades into some flower I don’t recognize. On the lid of the gaiwan I got that milk chocolate scent I frequently find in medium-roast yanchas but that passed after a few steepings
The visual light-medium roast and oxidized leaves produced an interesting juxtaposition to the taste. Wires in the brain crossed but the resultant shock was pleasant and intriguing. Do I want to purchase more? It would be a great digestif following a heavy meal once the winter rains come.
Of note, I didn’t time or keep track of the number of steepings beyond the initial steep of 20 seconds. Water just off boil, roughly 8 grams in a 100 mL jianshui gaiwan. Very forgiving on timing. Had a handful of steepings ranging upward of 30 minutes with no unpleasant results. I wonder how the taste would change with lower temperature water or a different brewing vessel. I guess I’ll have to order more to find out.
What a glorious surprise this tea is! I purchased 50g somewhat blindly and I’m so happy that I did. It has such a unique smell, flavour profile, and energy about it. It tastes sweet and almost floral/fruity (like a wildflower honey), has a beautiful reddish-brown liquor that gives off a hint of the taste to come, and the cha qi is serene yet invigorating. You can’t go wrong with this bold black tea.
Flavors: Caramel, Cherry, Eucalyptus, Flowers, Honey, Malt, Sugarcane, Toffee
Here is another review from the seemingly endless backlog. I finished a 50g pouch of this tea a couple weeks ago, but I am only now getting around to reviewing it here. Prior to trying this tea, I did not have much experience with Chun Lan at all. It is not one of the more popular or common Wuyi oolong cultivars and it does not seem to attract the most favorable reviews from teaheads whose opinions regarding Wuyi teas I trust. In essence, this tea was uncharted territory for me, and I went into my review session for it with no expectations whatsoever. What happened? I ended up liking it.
Naturally, I gongfued this tea. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, and 5 minutes.
Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of mushroom, char, longan, black cherry, black raspberry, and cannabis. After the rinse, I found new aromas of roasted peanut and orchid. The first infusion then brought out some stronger roasted peanut and orchid aromas, but I otherwise noted nothing new. In the mouth, I found notes of char and roasted peanut on the entry that gave way to mellow notes of longan and rock sugar chased by hints of orchid. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn fruitier and simultaneously vegetal. Cannabis, black raspberry, and black cherry notes emerged in the mouth alongside new impressions of minerals, earth, blueberry, peach, candied orange peel, roasted zucchini, and some odd hints of strawberry. The final infusions emphasized lingering notes of rock sugar, minerals, blueberry, strawberry, and orchid balanced by subtler notes of roasted peanut, black raspberry, cannabis, and char.
This was kind of an odd oolong, but a very rewarding one nonetheless. I would now like to try a more recent harvest of this tea just to get an idea of how it can change from year to year. I’m not sure people just getting into Wuyi oolongs would be pleased with this one since it presents such an odd, powerful mix of aromas and flavors, but those who are more experienced with these teas should find quite a bit to like. I will therefore recommend this tea with the caveat that it probably should not be one of the first Wuyi oolongs those new to such teas should try.
Flavors: Blueberry, Cannabis, Char, Cherry, Earth, Fruity, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange, Orchid, Peach, Peanut, Raspberry, Roasted, Strawberry, Sugar, Zucchini
Thank you for a thorough and helpful review, eastkyteaguy. Can I ask how do you manage to discern and identify so many different taste notes? Do you just sip tea next to a notebook and periodically exclaim “A-ha!”, scribble the next component down and then return to your meditation? Because I want to be like you but usually I am just overwhelmed by complex flavors and kinda give up. Is there a secret I could learn?
Bluegreen, with my regard to my process, that’s exactly what I do. I keep a notebook that I write and scribble in while I drink tea. Every time something comes to mind, I note it. Then when I post here, I whittle down my notes into something (hopefully) coherent. I don’t sit and meditate or do anything special. Usually I’ll time an infusion, sniff the gaiwan, let the poured tea cool slightly, and then wander around the house sipping it until it’s time to go back for another. As far as identifying aromas and flavors goes, it just comes down to practice and exposing oneself to new things. As you go, you just try to make as many connections as you can in order to describe what you experience with each tea you try. They don’t necessarily have to be super exotic or even entirely consistent from session to session. As long as they make sense to you and accurately reflect your personal experience, that’s fine. Another thing you can do is look to how sellers and other reviewers describe sensations and then go from there. The power of suggestion comes into play at that point, but you can begin to get an idea of what others purport to experience and then compare your own experiences to theirs. Sometimes you’ll agree on some things and other times you won’t, but that’s okay because it’s really about documenting your own experience in a way that is satisfying to you at the time. You don’t know how many times I’ve posted something and then read what someone else had to say and thought to myself, “Damn, I wish I had noticed that!” So, to finally bring my rambling to a definite conclusion, there is no real secret to any of this as far as I’m concerned. It’s just patience, practice, and careful consideration. That’s all there is to it.
Thank you eastkyteguy! I always looked at the previous reviews while drinking the tea in the first time and producing my own – and it felt like cheating. So now after learning that even such thorough and discerning people like you find other reviews a helpful aid to their own perception it makes me feel much better.
I am still quite new to a lot of tastes/ingredients and often look up what many herbs/ingredients have been commonly reported to taste like. My experiences don’t always line up, but often I’ll then go, “Ooooh, so that’s what that flavor is!” Sometimes you just can’t learn without a little “cheating.” :-)
My first aged sheng and first yi wu. Definite camphor aroma and taste in early steepings. This tea’s storage offers a dramatic change from brew to brew. Very slight asitringency and biterness, definitely vegetal and turns sweet in later steeps. Brews a deep gold/orange to start. Really gave me a deep appreciation for the journey a wet stored tea can offer. Definable cha qi, mellow and stoned.
Flavors: Broccoli, Camphor, Menthol, Spinach, Sweet
Thank you Evol Ving Ness for sharing. I made this to accompany my black sesame eclair and while the eclair had loads of caramel this tea is all chocolate. The end of the sip as it cools gets a touch more bitter (for lack of a better word). I’m also getting stone fruit which seems out of place. It’s very nice but I think I’ve preferred some of the other blacks I’ve had.