Zhao ZhouEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
I was stoked about this one. I haven’t had a first flush in close to a year, let alone Jun Chiyabari. I only had 5 grams of it, and I divided it up in 3 oz for some small cold brewing, and 2 grams for semi-gong fu and western.
I have only started it recently, not letting it exceed 30 seconds. It’s got some green woody bitterness and some typical first flush peppery astringency. You can read their notes too get an accurate idea of what you will have. It’s pretty green to me, bordering on being olive like with a bit of hoppy and citrusy zest. Woodsy camphor and balmy menthol definitely in there too. Tiger Balm was always citrusy for me anyway, so I’m not surprised. I actually didn’t camphor was a tree, and an oil used in balm, so it was cool to learn that. Every time I journey into more obscure teas, the more flower language and modicums of herbology I come across.
I’m still not finished with the tea yet, going through 1.5 minutes second time, and it’s more citrusy and blamy. Still twiggy.
I’ll have to write another note to see how far I get. I usually stop early with first flushes because of their astringency, but this one has very oolong like, so we’ll see.
… next morning, and the leaves smell too bitter and astringent for me. I disposed of those, and then retrieved my cold brew from the fridge. So much smoother. Citrus, orange, creamy, floral, refreshing and juicy in layers. Sip starts out honeysuckle, then light orange blossom, full on citrus, light spice, and creamy, juicy finish. Tasted like orange or lemon water. Yeah, this one was significantly better cold brew for me.
Overall rating is above an 80. High quality tea, and definitely for first flush lovers, though cold brew is the easy way to go. Despite drinking tea for over 20 years, I still like the more flavor forward teas. I’m so thankful to get to try this sample. I cannot recommend Zhao Zhou enough.
Flavors: Astringent, Bell Pepper, Bitter, Camphor, Citrus, Green Wood, Herbs, Hops, Olives, Pepper
So I played with this one more. I am having fun to see how it changes. It hasn’t lost anything, and I keep on finding different smooth traits each time. I used tumbler today, and the first brew was caramel coconut spinach with some texture, and the second was creamy egg yolk and milk tasting. Again, it’s why I kind of think of Irish Cream. It’s not as sweet or obviously riddled with whiskey, but it’s thick and creamy like irish cream. Maybe flan is a better descriptor. Again, not dessert sweet cause it’s still a straight grassy green oolong, yet it’s totally something you’d eat with a chease cake, brie, or something soft.
Flavors: Custard, Egg, Flan, Floral, Lily, Milk, Thick
Splurged on this one, and figured it be good if they are keeping this vintage around for a slightly higher price. I’ve only begun drinking it tonight, but the aroma and flavor are the right mix of delicate and full. Rounded texture, and the tea opens up at an even pace after 20 seconds, slightly getting bigger, and not revealing its secrets and layers immediately.
Coconut shells and meat comes to mind every time, with some lime qualities that I’d associate with a green Qin Xin they described, with a creamy texture. There are some similarities to Camelia Sinensis Lishan, though this one is more heavy in the coconut department so far. It’s interesting they wrote caramel in the notes because I usually don’t get that for most green oolongs. I am for this one, and it’s spinachy milk water so far that I am enjoying slowly. Kinda reminds me of Irish Cream somehow…exaggeration probably. I will add more to the notes as I continue tonights session.
I saved some for Leafhopper in the trade, and I look forward to seeing what she thinks.
Adding more to this, it does fade out kinda quick after steep 4. I did it again western at 2 minutes, and it was smooth and consistent.
Flavors: Coconut, Cream, Creamy, Irish Cream, Lily, Lime, Milk, Spinach, Thick
No. 648 Red Jade Ruby 2020
I’m trying this out for last to see how it goes, and I’m doing it without reading the notes. I’ve already got the eucalyptus, malt and menthol expectations up as I try it out, and I hope it’s not as astringent as other Red Jades I’ve had.
I went 5 grams 150 ml, 15, 30, 45, 65 and stopped.
The earlier notes I mentioned were there as expected, and this one was considerably smoother to drink. Each brew had a bright ruby red color, and lots to offer in the aroma in terms of mint, eucalyptus, sage, and malt. The flavors are much the same, but steep three gave me a little bit of cherry hint, and every steep was sweeter than normal, as if it had simple syrup added. Overall, the effect reminded me of cough syrup or sweetened cough medicine, but I didn’t have a major headache afterwards. I’d give it a 75-80 rating. I could also see other people giving it a much higher rating.
While I’m still not someone who likes the Red Jade varietal in blacks and whites as much now, I appreciated and enjoyed the tea because it was smoother than others I’ve had prior. This last note solidifies how well rounded the sampler is to give people an idea of what Taiwan teas are like. I preferred some over others and wish there might have been at least a Assam or Qin Xin Black, yet this is a good gift box for someone learning about or adoring of Taiwanese teas. Again, I deeply recommend Zhao Zhou.
Backlog/continued from yesterday:
No. 218 Formosa White Jade 2021
5 oz, 10 sec beginning, 10 sec increments, 185 roughly in temperature.
Dark leaves, nearly black with some green thrown in. Sage/eucalyptus like aroma, and trying it out, liquor is a darker orange or light brown. The Red Jade cultivar aroma of cinnamon, fruit, and balmy herbs lingers. The note “Steamed aroma: Summer dried wildflowers and herbs, spicy apple compote, nutmeg and taste of subtle flowers, chamomile, jasmine, tiger balm, sweet spices.Energizes gently.” The taste is extremely sweet and syrupy like ripe fruit, like apple compote. It’s brown like apple compote. Dense, full body every steep highlighted by jasmine green tea like florals like they said, and a healthy dose of eucalyptus/sage/mint/camphor/balm-again, typical red jade stuff. AAAAAaaaand, I could not manage past steep four. Too much for me. I think I can conclude that no matter how high quality and exceptional the tea, I still have a hard time with this varietal.
So, I gave myself a break by going into the green tea.
No. 341 Taiwan Primeur Green 2021
15 beginning, 10 sec increments, other parameters the same.
Again, I’ll borrow their description:
“steamed scent: chestnuts, baked buns, spinach, toasted fish skin, edamame beans
at 85 degrees: the scent of water chestnut, peach, lotus seed, Gingko Biloba, and the typical Maofeng greenish fresh scent, the aftertaste is long and pleasantly green, with typical notes of Qing Xin.”
Tasting notes hit me. Very peachy and forward with the water chestnut, and insanely green and fresh, easy to drink. I could get to steep 5 really easily, and then it was too green. Very creamy. I see the Gingko Biloba in the kind of green notes it has.
That’s all I have for now. I like the green a little bit more. Highly recommend this sampler and any teatasting from Zhao Zhou. I will say it is also re-affirming my biases for oolong and qin xin blacks. Typical.
I tried the High Mountain GABA, and I did it in imprecise 30 second steeps. It was extremely sweet and forgiving.
Trying it out, it had the baker spices and mulled wine the company writes about. I made some mulled wine to compare it. It was pretty close, but the spices were more in the aroma and accented the teas natural hong sweetness. I personally didn’t think it was that green, and the tea was very brown and a little ruddy. The spices and wine were most pronounced in steep one, but steep two onward were more savory. I kept on getting brown sugar, corn, chicory, and barley in how I tasted the tea. Later notes became more sweet and plummy, but not intense with a little bit of florals, maybe gardenia if you want to stretch.
It’s very good, and I like that it’s not just a funky fruit-corn tasting tea. I definitely calmed down, but was a bit more alert than I wanted to be at 9:00 last night. Focus and clarity resonated. I wouldn’t reach out for it because I like greener oolongs, but I think it’s very good and memorable. I’d rate it a 84-87.
I’m being lazy and writing all the tea notes on one page, but I may do a detailed review of each one later. I got this with 50 grams of the 2019 Lishan, and was ecstatic. This package was my 2021 end of the year self care pick me up.
I’ve gotten through half of the teas so far, so I’ll list them based on the order I tried them in as I backlog.
No. 540 Li Shan 2021 – 1800m
15-20 sec increments, repeated a 20 second rinse 4 times, and then longer minute steeps after based on aroma and color.
Insanely good and sweet smelling, having a great mix of savory vegetable with floral, sweet, and tropical ones. It smelled like fruit loops cereal, and initial steep had a sweet corn butter taste, and later steeps got vague fruitier and more floral with some healthy buttered and sweet greens in the body, bordering on caramelized despite being a greener Qing Xin. Maybe it’s the barley note they write about? Definitely a fan.
No. 540 Li Shan 2021 – 2000m
Same methods as above, and definitely more delicate and floral. The comparison I made in my head was between the lower elevations caramelized sugar, and this one was more like soft, powdered sugar. I got baby’s breath for some of the florals, definite orchid. Zhao Zhou describes this one as greener with a goat milk density to it, and it is. Both teas are very similar, and oddly enough, carry a bit of a chamomile like milky profile. Insanely uplifting, and has a clear meditative quality that’s really nice. I prefer the lower elevation overall, but I think I would have to always get some of this in comparison for a calming afternoon or evening.
No. 547 Wenshan Baozhong 2021
Of course a bazhong was next
15 sec parameters, 20, 15, 20, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 80.
LOOOOOOOOVED this one. I was surprised how complex this one was, and it meshed insane floral and fruity qualities that were more pronounced in the lishan. I’m gonna be basic and use Zhao ZHou’s description:
“It has a lily of the valley scent, which changes slightly to other flowers later, slight hyacinth, rose, chamomile. Great experience to meet this tea. Its taste is characterized by deep green notes, florality, a bit of citrus, and later some buttery biscuit. Delicate throbbing, focus. A great accompaniment to hot summer days from morning to afternoon. We hope your tasting is as enjoyable as when we first met this tea.”
It’s still green, but I was hit with jasmine, rose, citrus, butter, bready notes, and freshly steamed and sweet snap pea green. Hugged myself with it. Sad I only had 5 grams.
No. 539 Shan Lin Xi 2021 – 1400m – 10 g
I had 5 grams of it. 20 sec steeps in increments. They compared it to the 2017 vintage, which I had in the previous oolong sampler I got from them, and like that one, had a lot of coconut, butter, almond, and lots of spinachy green goodness and umami. Some gyurko qualities like they describe, but more nuanced and not quite as marine. I really like it, but Baozhong is my favorite so far because of its complexity.
Here’s what I got left to try:
No. 218 Formosa White Jade 2021
No. 341 Taiwan Primeur Green 2021
No. 546 High Mountain Gaba 2020 – 10 g
No. 648 Red Jade Ruby 2020
I know I should just make my own notes for each. However, I can just copy my drafted reviews and make pages when I have the brain power….I mean…“discipline.”
Other than that, I HIGHLY recommend this sampler for Taiwan Tea lovers. I’m a little bit dodgy about the Red Jade varietals, so it will be interesting to see how they taste. More notes soon…I’m behind.
Coming back from Florida three days ago with my Zhao Zhou order arriving!
This was gifted with another Jin Chiyabari First Flush sample with my order, and I was pretty ecstatic. I followed their parameters using 150 ml of water, 5 grams of tea, and 15, 20, 25, 15,10, 20 sec steeping time.
The tea was full bodied and herbaceous, floral. First steep had a citrusy and grainy aroma and thick viscousness. Lemon peel, herbs, hops, bread, malt. Second one was much the same beginning to lean into the beer character. The fourth steep was the most complex and full on tasted like a citrus beer with lemon and orange in a wheaty aftertaste, some grass herbs and hops from the trichomes. Thick as ever. Later steeps grew bitter and more herbaceous.
I’m definitely happy for this one. I’m not sure I’d reach for it, but it’s the kind of style white tea I like that still has enough fruity elements and texture to keep me going. There are more first flush black qualities in this tea than white qualities since it’s not delicate. It’s a little malty, but refined and zesty. The citrus and texture felt great on my throat as I am sick and recovering from Bronchitis and my booster. I wish I saved some for a cold brew, but with how cold it is in Michigan right now, I’m satisfied with my hot cup. Not sure if I’ll rate it-but at least an 80 min.
Flavors: Beer, Bread, Citrus, Citrus Zest, Floral, Grassy, Herbs, Hops, Lemon Zest, Malt, Orange, Thick, Wheat
A gracious sample that I enjoyed. Thank you so much Zhao Zhou!
The previous reviewer already nailed this one, especially with the Goji berry notes and Sheng like qualities. I only got four cups, and it was fairly flexible, but a little bitter like a sheng. I mostly got Autumn Leaves, forest floor, resin, and a little bit of fruitiness. I got the grape the company talks about in their description, and a little bit of birch and maple in the overall taste. It was personally kinda woodsy and brothy for me.
I liked this one more in the later steeps, but this was definitely a “Chill, bro” kind of tea. I liked it, and I still cannot say thank you enough for the company for putting this fine tea in the package all the way from Budapest. I’m totally going to this shop when I travel to Europe in the far, but hopefully not too far future.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Fig, Forest Floor, Grapes, Maple, Resin, Wood
I expected a nuclear green floral and soapy Chou Chi before I bought it. Their description was upfront about the tea’s headiness: “Green dancong is one of our most fragrant teas. Due to the special drying process that involves both heating and cooling, the leaves can keep their original fragrance: orchid, lily, and lilac. This overwhelming flower bouquet, is accompanied by the scent of fresh green grass. The aftertaste is mild and buttery with some refreshing, vivid buzz.”
Again, their description and steeping methods were reliable as ever; but it was not overwhelming and soapy at all. It was subtle and refined like every tea, and immensely creamy. It was green, but again, creamy florals of orchid, lilac and lily dominated the tea without ever being astringent or bitter in the least. The lilac, and MAYBE vanilla notes reminded me more of a high grade Baozhong than a TieGuanYin like the other green dancongs I’ve had, which was so very welcomed.
It had some durability at seven steeps, so it was medium in strength. This is a good tea if you like things on the lighter end of oolongs, and definitely better than other green dancongs I’ve had.
Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Floral, Freshly Cut Grass, Green, Orchids
I thought that the Hongxin would be more roasted, but I was wrong; this one’s baking was much more distinct despite being lighter and greener. It was nutty and had a very similar macademia note that the Hongxin had, but this one was more abrupt in its change. Going with their recommendations, the tea did indeed start was sweet and floral, having some violet in its sweetness, that then became a little bit more bready. Then, it transitions into a sourdough texture with immense florals akin to orchid and something fainter then magnolia amidst a baked and ever nutty background. The transition was louder in the aroma as well. The tea did not settle down until it’s 10th and 11th steep.
The overall notes are things you’d expect from a Tie Guan Yin, but the combo was not. I actually liked it, and it woke me up more than the Hongxin did. I would want to see what some one else thinks of this one. I think it’s more suited for intermediate drinkers, but there are some tea snobs that could take out more from this than I can. Cheers for surprises.
Flavors: Bread, Creamy, Flowers, Green, Nuts, Pleasantly Sour, Toast
I have not had a Tie Guan Yin that’s impressed for a while. The medium roasted Tie Guan Yin’s used to be my favorite, starting with Rishi’s version of the tea. It was like drinking liquid graham crackers. Since then, Tie Guan Yins have been two dimensional; they are either vegetal, nuclearly floral, or plain toasty. When I read the description for this one and the Yesheng, however, I got a sense of renewed hope.
Surprisingly, this tea was one of my top five of the sampler. Immensely nutty like almond, cashew, and hazelnut, this one was a little bit more complex than I anticipated. The first few steeps were indeed “coffee-like” with the same kind of toffee finish you get in some coffees with creamer or savory like the graham cracker note I imagine, but immensely nutty while slightly floral. The middle brews shifted to something that reminded me of macademia, while the overall tea maintained its baked character. Later steeps were indeed vegetal and floral like a greener tieguanyin, but still ever so slightly baked.
I got ten cups out of this one, and I was impressed with it. I’d be interested to see people with a more straightforward vocabulary break it down to what this tea is, and I’d also be interested in what someone who is more tacit or even flareful might describe it. This was an interesting tea overall.
Flavors: Almond, Bread, Coffee, Floral, Graham Cracker, Hazelnut, Nuts, Smooth
This one was much more traditional Milan Xiang, but it was still impressive. Unlike the other dancongs from the sampler, this one was dominated by honey, lychee, orchids, and a few other florals that I have yet to name. The texture and aroma were also of course creamy and nectar like. There was some mango, but not as much as the wudong. This one was a little darker than the wudong, but barely so. I did not taste too much toast or baking. I got some hints that resembled cooked peaches or grapefruit, but nothing close to char. Yes, it was a little bit nutty too, but in the hints and aroma during the middle brews. Although my description is relatively simple, the tea had some flux of notes going through and a long lasting durability since I got about ten brews out of it Gong Fu style with the 3-3-5-7 second increment rule.
Again, I hope that I’m doing the tea justice. If you’ve had Milan, you know what to expect. It’s an easy drinker that I’d recommend newer drinkers trying once in their life, and I think more intermediate drinkers would appreciate the lychee notes. I liked the wudong a little more, but I’d personally drink this one more often because it is a little bit less finicky. It gives you a balanced cuppa, even sippa’ either way. I might get this one again because I feel like I’m missing something….We’ll have to wait until the next tea addict writes about this, I guess.
Flavors: Almond, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Lychee, Nuts, Orchid, Peach, Wood
I feel unoriginal in using the company’s description, but they nailed it: “An especially fragrant tea with notes of acacia , orange and almonds. It has a characteristic taste of citrus fruits with a hint of hazelnut and a slight, refreshing sourness. The aftertaste is quite long, round and creamy, the chaqi is deep and energising.” I was also surprised by how many yellow green leaves there were in the mix. I’ve had wudongs and Da Wu Yi’s with the weird green-yellow-orange-leaves, but they did not accent the pile the ways these did. And unlike other Wudongs, the fruit notes were more prominent for me. Following their exact guidelines for how to brew it, Guava was the biggest note I tasted, then orange and mango in the middle brews, and vague lychee toward the end. The acacia was always there, and the tea was definitely nutty, but it was very fresh rather than roasted. It was more on the creamy and fruity ends of oolongs overall, and although it might seem on the more green end of oolong, it was not vegetal in the least.
It’s a given that I loved this tea, and I personally did not have one favorite over the other in this sampler. The notes reminded me of summer, but you could drink this tea fine any season. I recommend this one if you are looking for an especially fruity and bright dancong.
Flavors: Almond, Citrus, Creamy, Flowers, Fruit Tree Flowers, Green Wood, Guava, Hazelnut, Mango, Pleasantly Sour, Sweet, Tropical, Wood
If you know what a high quality Shui Xian tastes like, then you know what to expect when you buy this one:toasty goodiness with subtle notes that you almost call floral, but you don’t care because it is one of the few types of teas that naturally resembles coffee with a lot of creamer. That’s my opinion, and I’m proudly biased to that description.
Anyway, I drank this exactly as instructed, and was pleased that this tea had some Cha Qi like they described. I felt productive after drinking it, but I had no jitters going into the final eighth cup of this. As for the flavor, it was primarily nutty like almond and roasted nuts, followed by a caramelized body in the aftertaste that was not too far off from coffee. The florals reminded me a little bit like narcissus, and as the steeps got rebrewed, the tea got some fruity hints. This tea was not actually fruity, but it got sweeter in the later hints. The tea was also moderately woodsy and vegetal (barely so), but more roasted and floral overall. Nuts, butter, caramel, toast, wood, orchid, rye, and some “sourness” and smoke that the company describes are the descriptors I’m going to stick with. I’m recommending this tea, and really, any tea from this company either way.
Flavors: Almond, Caramel, Coffee, Nuts, Orchid, Roasted, Rye, Smoke, Smooth, Sweet, Toast
The next few teas are going to be a bunch of backlogs from this sampler, and the Song Zhong sampler I had from Harney and Sons.
Every tea has been great from Zhao Zhou. This one was one of my favorites. It had the usual notes of a slightly toastier Dan Cong and the usual fruity peach notes and floral orchid ones, but it was a little bit deeper overall. The roast blended effortlessly with the stone fruit ones in a mineral textured complexity. I followed the instructions as they listed, and it occasionally had a cassia spiciness from the roast. I occasionally got something similar to plum or grapefruit, but every once in a while, I got something a little bit more tropical like passionfruit. I wish I wrote the notes at the time to accurately describe the fruits, because whereas the other dancongs were more akin to lychee and mango, this one was a little bit more robust and “red” in fruits. It was as viscous and creamy as the others, but more complex with its toasty accents. I’m half tempted to get more of this one in particular, although all the Dancongs Zhao Zhou offers are great in their own right.
I hope this note does this tea service. Overall, this tea had a great balance between its fiery toast notes and its fruity and floral ones. It also had a decent amount of longevity for nine good brews gong fu as the company recommended.
Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Mineral, Orchids, Passion Fruit, Roasted, Sweet, Toast
Soo good. I followed their 3-5-7 approach with 150 ml, and it worked beautifully. Dried plums, roast, vanilla, and smoke in the dryeaf, and fresh plums, rock sugar, roasty hints, and vanilla hints in the aftertaste. The liqours color was amber, but with a purple tint. The tea was immensely sweet, and it gave me a bit of a buzz. The same notes permeated the later ones, bringing out more florals like orchid and fiery charcoal in the aftertaste. The fourth began with plums and rock sugar again, then a zingy blackberry note, and then the tea hit the roof of my mouth: smoke and fire. It was not ashy, but it was so sweet and smooth. The Cha Qi made my arms and legs purr. Later steeps brought a little bit of grapefruit, but plum, blackberry, and currant later on permeated it overall. I wish there was more of this one because it had so much complexity. I highly recommend it for roasted tea drinkers looking for some nuance in short flash steeps…or people with taste buds, because it’s good.
Flavors: Black Currant, Blackberry, Brown Sugar, Char, Fireplace, Floral, Orchid, Plum, Roasted, Smoke, Vanilla, Wet Rocks, Wood
Thank you so much for adding this sample from my request!
This Dan Cong is good. I followed the Gong Fu style they suggested fairly strictly, and started off with a 3 second rinse, and followed through with a 3-5-5-7-8-9-12-12 pattern.
The dryleaf reminded me of incense. It was woody like dragons blood or sandelwood, but it was unpronounced like bamboo. The tea still had that ripe peach aroma that Mi Lan’s usually have.
Drinking it was interesting. First steep had notes of hibiscus and passionfruit, and it was a little bit woodsy. The flavor was still ripe, almost like a good quality sheng.
The following one had the same notes, but more texture. It was creamy and sweet like guava, and the wood note, maybe almond, was a little bit more pronounced mid sip. Mild astringency came through.
Third (fourth if you include the rinse which I TOTALLY drank) yielded guava, hibiscus, pollen, almond, and then a weird pineapple note in the finish. I usually don’t get that, but it was sweet and sour.
The next one had more dimension. Peach became the flavor this time with a woodsy peach seed in the background, and a little bit more nutty. The texture was more creamy, and ended with a mineral hint in mouth feel. The bitterness came through a little bit, and again was pleasant.
The next one went back to hibiscus, peach, guava, mineral, and slight bitterness.
The second to last one was surprisingly sweet-grapefruit, mineral, honey, and some things that almost reminded me of candy, or the salty rim of margarita.
The final brew was floral, a little bit bitter, creamy, and fruity.
Again, the company’s description was accurate, though it was not as nutty as I would personally describe it since the fruit notes were a little bit more dominant in flavor. Nutty notes were a little bit more in the aftertaste, aroma, and texture. I was very pleased with this tea overall, but I would say it’s the kind of tea you need to devote a session to. It does require some effort in how you brew it because it can get a little bit sour, but it’s very pleasing. I recommend a try of this one if you know anything about Dan Congs. It’s a little expensive for me personally, but I am glad I got to try it.
Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Guava, Hibiscus, Mineral, Nuts, Smooth, Sour, Wood
I am backlogging backwards, and divided this one up in 2.5 grams increments. Gong fu would totally work well for this one, but I am not sure if I would get too much of a difference. I brewed this in a strainer in my mug for three minutes, four, and five each time.
Cocoa was definitely in the aroma with the usual autumn leaf pile warmth, but chestnut and bread were dominant in smell and taste dryleaf and after brewing it. Again, the company’s description represents it well: “Its Bouquet-like character combined with the freshness of a green tea makes a lovely tea-experience. The usual taste of bread and chestnut is now supplemented with a smild citrus flavour.” And man, was it buttery and bready in flavor, and thick in texture. Malt were one of my notes since I brewed it so long. It was very similar to a Darjeeling black, but since I’ve had a few of these oolongs before, it tastes like any Nepal oolong-i.e. excellent.
I don’t have much more to say than that, and I wish I could have gotten a little bit more to experiment with it Gong Fu. I was still very pleased and I definitely recommend this tea. It is a little bit more of a snobs tea (looking at you Darjeeling and Nepal Lovers), but I do think it is approachable for a new drinker.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Bread, Chestnut, Citrus, Cocoa, Floral, Malt
I was looking for samplers online to splurge on, and Zhao Zhou had one of the best assortment of oolongs I’ve yet seen. The selection had four different Dan Congs, a Mei Zhan, a Himalayan varietal, and more. This was the only Taiwan based tea they had in it, but still, all of the teas were a few of my favorites, especially this one.
The packaging of the sampler was gorgeous. The inside was decorated with leaves and branches, and the packaging came with a surrealist anthropomorphic dear. The offerings were excellent.
This was not the first one I tried nor is it the last one that I am back logging, but I gotta say that I am impressed with this oolong. The companies description of depth and a vanilla hint is apt. This tea was by no means vegetal, but was predominantly buttery and creamy with a few floral fluxes.
I doad wish I adhered to the companies instructions to the letter for Gong Fu brewing, I am pleased with the results in western style. Instead of doing 3-3-5-7 secs, I did that method in minutes while using 5 grams, 12 oz of hot water (190 F), and nearly 2 minutes and forty five seconds at first. I was able to get five solid cups, and I am trying to rebrew the sixth this morning.
I did rinse the tea before drinking it western. The rinse gave me vaguely floral impressions, so that was when I committed to the way I brewed it. The first cup was subtle, but in no means lacking in flavor or aroma. Hyacinth, butter, lilac, and vanilla permeated from my mug, and sipping it, the liquor soaked my tongue like cream and ended in my sinuses with a desert-like vanilla quality. It was a touch nutty, but I could not put my finger on it yet. The aftertaste was sweet nevertheless.
Steep two at three minutes, macademia immediately came to mind with the same vanilla notes the previous one had. Shan Lin XI’s usually aren’t this milky for me, but I am not complaining about this change of pace. These sips ended with a honeysuckle note, and a honey hint without being overly sweet. It was still as subtle as it had been.
Steep three had much of the same macademia and honeysuckle notes, but the lilac become the predominant flavor that was ended with an almost pineapple like finish. The fruitiness was faint, but it was there. I personally would not call this tea fruity, though, because it was more like a milky confectionery. More fruity notes appeared when the tea was cooled down, however. When my cup chilled to a winter temperature near fifty degrees, I sipped it and got a honeydew like flavor. Florals were still there, and it was sweeter.
Steep four brought out more lilac, mineral, butter, and vanilla hints. It was becoming a little bit more green. Steep five yielded more green notes and a little bit astringency. Some apple notes hinted their way through. Steep six is in progress this morning. I’m probably going to soak it for ten minutes if I haven’t exhausted these stemy bad boys too much.
Now that steep six is finished, it is greener. Taste and texture are creamy as ever, but thinner. Flavor is also vaguely milky, but a little bit floral like osmanthus. There is a little bit of a eucalyptus of spruce feeling in the end that is very faint. It could just be my tongue’s reaction to the mineral and floral notes.
Thus far, this Shan Lin Xi impressed me for its macademia notes and its lack of extreme vegetal notes. The vanilla note was also one of the best aspects of it overall. I could drink this with little issue, and it was complex despite being brewed western style. The overall price was not too bad for it either. It would have been priced at 49 Euros for 150 grams, which is pricey, but reasonable. This particular batch is out of stock since it was 2017 in season, but they do have the 2018 for the same price. The description of that one is a little different, but it still sounds excellent. I highly recommend this company for tea snobs.
Flavors: Butter, Cream, Floral, Green, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Milk, Mineral, Nuts, Smooth, Sweet, Vanilla