572 Tasting Notes
This stuff is powerful, like somebody tried to take me down by punching me in the solar plexus and instead I stood there and beat my chest to assert my dominance. Got 10 steeps in over 4 hours: 10s rinse/5/7/10/12/15/20/25/30/45/1m. Had to stop but it has more to go. Short steeps in the beginning to balance the extreme bitterness and kind of sour astringency that would otherwise smack me in the face at my usual third steep of 15 seconds.
Dry leaf separates with ease and is a wild and chaotic mix of brown, gold and beige velvety leaves and needles. It shines like the flame on the Statue of Liberty. Smells like it’s developing some patina, too. Has some of that grandma’s floral perfume smell. Taste starts off thick with apricot, tobacco, floral, lemon and whisps of smoke. Moves to bitter up front, golden delicious apple, grass, light honey, mineral and sandalwood with some nice tingling side-tongue action and meat and leather in the back of the mouth. The energy hits fast and hard in my chest and kept me up until 5am. Just as I started to develop a taste for this and get the brewing where I wanted it, I find it’s sold out. Probably for the better, as I found the energy and caffeine to be a little overwhelming. Glad I got to try it.
Warm and busy day called for a western brew of some white tea.
1T/8oz/190F/3 solid steeps timed only by the color of the brew. A fourth steep was light but still nice.
Dry leaf smells like the taste of lychee, hay, sugarcane, meyer lemon, honeydew and cantaloupe. A tad musty. I sniffed the first brew but none thereafter. I remember cantaloupe, oats and sweet cinnamon-vanilla-buttery glaze. All three brews had a typical silver needle taste and sweetness. Cantaloupe, honeydew, oats, lychee and that sweet cinnamon-vanilla-buttery glaze, maybe some peach or apricot, honeysuckle and hay? I don’t remember if eucalyptus made a presence, which I really like in this style of tea. A little scratchy in the throat on the first steep but after that it was thick and smooth. Good lookin’ liquor.
I much prefer this one over the Jing Gu White Pekoe Silver Needles due to a lack of bitterness and astringency. Easier to produce a consistent no-fuss western cup. Seems like it’s holding up better with age, too. I’ll probably make this one my go-to silver needle, as in 50g/yr. I don’t need much silver needle in my life.
Daylon R Thomas already adequately described this tea but I love this tea, too, so I wanna talk about it.
So here I am drinking it the night before my GRE exam. I’ll probably have it tomorrow morning, too.
Tonight, I’ve gone western. 1tsp/8oz/205F. First steep was 3 minutes, second was whoops I forgot. Third will be a deliberate whoopsy because you can’t overbrew this tea.
This tea is straightforward and ridiculously easy to chug once it cools off. No astringency or bitterness with a light mouthfeel. Aroma and taste is sweet vanilla and rock sugar with roasted pears and sweet apples. Because of its flavor profile, I enjoy it most during mornings on campus when the fog is rolling through or at night at home…when the fog is rolling through. I enjoy this tea any time of day, really.
My preferred method of brewing this, though, is in my clay gaiwan, with 5 grams of leaf to 100mL. It nullifies the barely there funk that’s present in western and it amplifies the sweetness. My glob. Smell the bottom of the cup, people. And it steeps forever but I don’t have time for that tonight.
I recently gifted a coffee-drinking friend with an encyclopedia of loose teas. He was most stoked about this one, What-Cha’s sticky rice oolong and Whispering Pines’ Ancient Spirit but he’s really excited about tea in general (I’m sending him another encyclopedia of loose tea next week). I think I have a convert. Good for newbies and experienced alike. Also regarding converts, my manfriend/lifepartner/whatever swore off coffee for this week. He texted me today saying ‘I need better tea at work.’ Finally he’s tired of the Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast. So I packed some of this for him to try out grandpa-style.
Woot. I’m happy and calm. This is derk signing out. Nanu nanu.
Longjing isn’t my jam, but I do appreciate it from time to time.
I usually brew longjing 2 tsp/8oz/175F/grandpa with two top-offs but I cut down to 1 tsp for this tea specifically because of what it does to my mouth.
Most of the flattened leaves and needles are still vibrant 5 months after purchase. The silver bag has a smattering of fuzz. A few leaves here and there have a ball of light golden fuzz stuck to them which makes it look like some kind of leaf gall. Nope it’s fuzz. Cool.
The smell of many Chinese green teas is difficult for me to describe – I’d say this dragon well is kind of like cashew, oats and light cocoa. While brewing, the liquor has a strong fragrance of sweet roasted chestnut. A minute later, it tastes like a cross between green beans and sweet peas with some chestnut. After the tea glides across my tongue, the sweetness persists. I notice some astringency. Chew on the leaves that have a death-by-mastication wish. Good, no bitterness.
Second glass is noticeably lighter in flavor and aroma and some time into it, I notice that my mouth feels torn up like I ate a lemon. Twelve hours later, it’s still feeling rough. Is that the leaf’s revenge? Not very pleasant. Third glass was very light and not worth it.
Overall, it’s an ok tea. I always eat the leaves, so next time I’ll turn them away from my pearly gates to see if I still get a raw mouth. I’ve had longjings I like more and may even prefer lower grade.
May 2018 harvest.
What a weird tea. I’ve never had something so savory.
4g/195-200F/100mL clay gaiwan. Didn’t keep track of the number of steeps or write detailed notes but it was definitely long lasting.
Dry leaf smelled like roasted peanut butter and brown sugar.
Warmed gave aromas of roasted peanut minus its butter and chocolate.
The wet leaf started out on a really pleasant note of bamboo shoot, sugarcane, vanilla and orchid. Starting with the fourth steep, that moved into a pretty sour and strong-smelling bamboo shoot.
The aroma of the liquor never contained any of the bamboo shoot notes. Rather it remained fruity with orchid and marshmallow with some chocolate coming in and out.
The taste of the liquor started out awesome with undefined fruityness moving into sugarcane, peanut, bamboo shoot, mineral and grass with butter and marshmallow in the back of the mouth. Later steepings had the addition of toasted rice and orchid with the peanut disappearing and an aftertaste of kettlecorn. Following that, it just became sour bamboo shoot and cooked ripe plantain with sweetness. The liquor was never thin. I really enjoyed the consistency ranging from oily to silky.
Really odd tea. I don’t think it was bad, just something I’ve never experienced. I’ll refrain from a rating until I try it again.
Finishing up my bag of this.
Gone western. 1tsp, 8oz, 175F, 60/90/120s all combined into one big glass. Don’t oversteep! It can get really astringent.
Who doesn’t love snails?
I bought this tea right after it became available in the spring. I can’t recall what the dry leaf smelled like when it was really fresh but at the moment I can’t pick up on anything definable. It’s just soft. Plop these downy snails on the top of some hot water. Watch them unfurl. The brewing liquor smells much like bacon-wrapped sweet scallops. Very umami!After pouring all three steeps together, the liquor is a light green-yellow with a ton of down floating around even after using a strainer. If you don’t use a strainer, you’ll end up with some black char bits floating around that eventually settle to the bottom. The taste is soft with scallops, grass, mineral lemon water, white florals and a sweet, very light peach. The peach becomes quite prominent in the aftertaste and resembles peach gummy rings, though not nearly as strong. The mouthfeel is thick, light and glassy, with a complementary astringency and saltiness as long as you don’t overbrew. Salivation is also present.
This tea is still nice, light and refreshing 6 months after harvest. Very affordable.
I received this as a freebie with my latest order. Thanks! The envelope says Spring Harvest with no year indicated and the website states Spring 2017. Who knows.
This tea struck a very positive and uplifting note with me but is a one-hit-wonder following the recommended brewing parameters of 1 tsp, 8oz, 212F, 3/5 minutes. I even did a third steep at what was going to be 8 minutes but turned into 11 due to forgetfulness.
The dry leaf is a sight to behold, full of twisty brown, black and gold needles that smell only of malt and sweet potatoes. The aroma of the first steep promised an exciting session with scents of orange, moss, orange blossom, molasses and milk. Indeed the first steep tasted wonderful, possessing notes of orange, walnut, mossy wet river rocks, milk, malt, light brown sugar and non-spicy ginger. The mouthfeel was smooth and milky, like 1% milk. There was a lively energy in the mouth. I was instantly warmed from the inside-out and happy.
Unfortunately, the second steep fell flat. The aroma of the liquor lost everything but the orange. There was an addition of orange zest and light ginger and the milk faded. The body became very light and watery and the mouthfeel slightly tannic with tastes of orange, apricot and wood. I wanted more than this so I went for a Hail Mary third steep. Sadly, even after 11 minutes, I was left with a nose of orange zest and orange and a taste of apricot. Very watery. There were no lingering tastes, but as I write this review, I notice a pleasant kind of watery, sour apple mouthfeel. I will say it made an excellent post-dinner drink that complemented my salmon, rice, broccoli and sweet corn.
This would be the perfect tea for those gray and frozen winter days when you need a ray of sunshine. I’ll move this one to the back of the drawer for now. Hopefully some light aging will work its magic and allow for some longevity and cocoa notes to develop but I feel like realistically it might not happen.
Edit: I think I was too harsh on this tea. Ratings are tough without clearly defined criteria and I sometimes think about dropping that habit. That said, I’m not ready to drop the habit yet. I was disappointed to not pick up on any of the chocolate I’ve gotten in other dianhong teas. There’s something really nice about this tea that I can’t define. Some of the best things come in short bursts. Increased rating. Still going to let the tea sit for a while.
Picked this up from the co-op a while back. It was much cheaper per pound there than through Rishi. Yay high turnover bulk.
Gone grandpa, 1 tsp, 10oz ceramic coffee mug, 195F, 2 top-offs.
The dry leaf scent resembles a young, non-boozy cabernet. I pick up on red fruit, green bell pepper and woody vanilla. The liquor smells mostly like baked cherries and honey with a dash of cocoa.
The taste is more complex. It seems like a medley of malty dark cherry pie and a flakey apricot and blood orange pastry with large sugar crystals sprinkled on top. The most prominent notes are honey, baked cherry and rose. Other, non-dominant tastes include a swirl of wet wood, musty autumn leaves, red plum, green bell pepper, golden syrup, violet, black licorice, cacao, vanilla, black pepper without the spicy bite and mineral. Mouthfeel is pretty light and later quite drying especially at the back of the throat and uvula, making for an awkward swallow. Aftertaste lingers early on before the astringency takes over.
This is a very tasty tea. Compared to previous brews western style, I pick up more flavor complexity with grandpa style. However, due to the astringency in the throat, I think it’s better-suited for western.. In general, it does lack the fuller, thicker mouthfeel that I appreciate, though that makes it good for a light daily drinker. I’ll have to try it out in a gaiwan.
I’m writing another review to note the smell of the dry leaf and the addition of flavors when brewed grandpa-style in a basic white ceramic coffee mug as opposed to the previous review where I brewed the tea in a glass with the same amount of leaf and water.
The dry leaf smells like light cocoa and sugar cookie with a faint whiff of ceylon cinnamon and lemon zest. These rest on top of an unplaced green vegetal base (edamame?).
In addition to the previous tasting notes, this time the liquor became sweeter, with a more noticeable thickness in the mouth and slickness on the tongue. Seaweed, leeks and clear chicken broth made a strong presence with some butter in the back of the mouth. Brewed in a ceramic mug, my enjoyment of the tea increased. It is really pleasant. Increased rating.
Trying not to turn this into a blog or muddy what I and some of you are ultimately here for – tea reviews – but I JUST CAN’T HELP IT. This Da Hong Pao is my side piece and it’s nagging at me. I’ve had Prince’s ‘U Got the Look’ in my head for days.
The Bay Area had a 4.4 magnitude earthquake in January. Nothing crazy but since then, chunks of grout in the shower began falling out. I can now feel every single bus and truck driving by. The pots on top of the refrigerator rattle if I don’t place them just right. Each passing multi-ton people-and-things-mover brings the long slow rumble that marked the beginning of that earthquake. Two earth-shattering jolts made this fearless woman grip the sheets in a rush of terror. That’s how you know you’re alive. This old building shakes like a skeleton… rattle them bones. Somewhere I hear a knowing laugh. The grim reaper leaves nothing behind. City neva stops. Nothing ever stops. Some things just leave a bigger impression after passing through.
Holy crap this is a complex and dynamic tea. It’s past 3am and I should probably go to bed. Long and detailed review after I rest this vessel.
Some time later…
I tried typing a detailed review but I guess I wasn’t feeling it. Here, again, I fail at providing a completely subjectively objective review.
I wrote notes of the dry, warmed and rinsed leaf, as well as leaf aroma, liquor aroma and taste for each steep but I think this tea just needs to be experienced and for you to lose yourself in it. It instantly commanded my attention and I was sunk into a session for over three hours if that gives you a generalized view of what to expect. This isn’t an everyday tea. It’s intimate.
The leaf, aroma and liquor play a deep, dark dance with a wonderful roast, various forms of chocolate, the most vibrant raspberry I’ve ever tasted, blackberry, plums and currants of all colors, minerals, various nuts both raw and roasted, sweetness ranging from honey to burnt sugar to caramel, florals like orchid, violet and lily of the valley, different grains notably roasted barley, a rye spiciness, some coffee and char, dandelion greens, lettuce, dried cilantro, sage and wood. These were all just the most apparent. There are many fleeting nuances.
The mouthfeel ranges from sweet to thick and velvety, highly mineral but never biting, lightly bitter to astringent and drying. The aroma, tastes and mouthfeel linger…long. They are dynamic and pronounced yet it seems like they are willing to make room for each successive steep.
The energy I experienced was dark yet vibrant, intense yet calm, intuitive, open, introspective. I’d like to have a session in the evening with a few good friends (or anybody, really). The ones you only get to see when events align, the physical distance closes and every time you reunite, you pick right back up. The silken thread between you never breaks. I felt strong, aware and assertive. I wanted to bare my soul. There was expansiveness and closeness, accommodation and acceptance, like there’s room for more under this big red velvet robe.
So, yeah. Whew. Powerful stuff. I’m excited to see what a few more years’ age will do.
The next day I simmered the spent leaves for 5 to 10 minutes. Ambrosia.