569 Tasting Notes

94

It’s hot today by San Francisco standards. No air conditioning nor insulation in a 1906 building. I’m on the top floor and am blocking the western sun with curtains closed. I need something bright and refreshing.

I’ve brewed this tea western every time. 2-3 tsp (length and shape makes for difficult measurement), 8oz, 160F. I’ve played around with steeping times, with first steeps ranging from 30-60s. Good for 3 steeps, maybe 4 if you like to push it and like saltiness.

Dry leaf is a nice mix of lightly rolled dark green leaves and buds with a yellow-brown tint. They have the darjeeling pungency with kind of an orange zest quality but not quite. There is a sweetness there, too, like a citrus blossum, hints of green olive and desert earth. Subtle.

The liquor itself is delicate in color, aroma, and taste. It has a very clear, light yellow body, darkening slightly throughout the steeps. The aroma is mostly present when pouring from one glass into another. I pick up light lemon zest, lemon blossom, bright meaty vegetal. I can put a name to the bright, meaty vegetal once I take a few sips of the glassy liquor: fresh castelvetrano olives. The best olives in the world. If you like olives, I suggest you try them but don’t buy them canned. The dominating taste, though, isn’t olives but rather a light lemon/lime sprinkled with a little bit of powdered sugar, some mineral and complementary bitterness of citrus pith (this isn’t a bitter tea by any means). A pleasant sour saltiness persists long after I’ve drank all three steepings and my tongue is dancing and bright. The spent leaves and buds are whole and healthy, well cared for. Everything about this clean and delicate tea makes me happy and feeling refreshed.

Dare I say it’s like drinking soft sunshine?

As I near the end of a 25g envelope of this tea, I realize it has grown on me immensely. What-Cha continues to introduce me to a variety of teas I’d likely never find in stores or even tea shops. This is my first darjeeling green tea and first from the Rohini Tea Estate. I bought this tea with no expectations and I would love to have more.

Side note: I brewed a glass of this for my partner, too. He’s a coffee and Trader Joe’s Irish Breakfast drinker during the work-week but on the weekends or when he’s hungover (which was today :P), I brew him various green teas. You know, something light, but I have this ulterior motive to get him off coffee because he turns into a trainwreck in the evenings. After drinking this tea, he said, “Now I know why you’re so into this. The quality is so much better than bagged teas. More please.” His full conversion is coming. Soon.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 8 OZ / 236 ML

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71

What-Cha describes this as “A most unusual tea…” I can’t help but think he’s being cheeky.

I brewed 2 cups of this late last night, thinking “Hey, GABA tea.” Well, it turns out it has the typical caffeine content of Red Jade blacks: feckin HIGH. It was late and I wasn’t doing anything with all that unused energy so I decided to go to bed. I ended up getting a lot of anxiety lying there so I took a few diphenhydramines to knock my ass out. Sipper beware.

Moving on. Finished last night’s brew this morning. Gone western. 1 tsp, 8oz, 195F, 3/4/6/? minutes. ?minutes isn’t worth it. I don’t think I’ll try brewing this tea any method other than western.

April 2017 harvest. Dry nuggets are large and smell really good, like overripe strawberries. After the first steep, the wet leaf had minimal funk but past that was roasted sweet potato and later steeps moved to roasted acorn squash.

First steep produced a cup smelling and tasting of funk but that quickly turned into tang (rhubarb?) and sweet potato. Later steeps saw the funk disappear, the tang lighten, the sweet potato developed a roast and turned into roasted acorn squash both in aroma and taste. Noticed a coolness in the mouth on exhale but no minty taste. The liquor was smooth and developed some slickness and dryness. It started off a beautiful shade of pinkish champagne with a tinge of orange and turned progressively clear orange-brown.

The spent leaf is very large and not in the best shape. One leaf was 7cm wide. Couldn’t help measuring it.

For me, this is a morning tea to have with a big breakfast before going out to chainsaw fire lines all day or a tea to carry cold in a thermos on a long, exhausting hike.

I’m a big fan of Red Jade blacks and whites and would rather stick to those. This is certainly “a most unusual tea.”

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

This tea is a partial embodiment of the Central Valley in California.

I recommend brewing this western. The concentration of flavor and color sits at the bottom of the cup so I don’t think it’s well suited for grandpa. The leaves are spindly and clump together so it’s difficult to get the recommended 2tsp. Rather, I just line the bottom of my glass with a thin layer. 195-200F, 8oz, 3/5/7 min. Definitely don’t go above 200F or you’ll be lashed with drying astringency.

March 2018 harvest. The dry leaf, as stated, is spindly and clumpy, dark brown with a good amount of orange-gold needles. Visually appealing. It smells like roasted almonds with a decent amount of pungency including an odd green vinegary pickle.

The liquor is clear, bright, roasty and slightly earthy both in aroma and taste. In the mouth I get orange, apricot, honey-roasted/toffee almonds, hot leather, hot dry oatgrass and earth, and walnut and oak woodiness with their accompanying tannins. The mouthfeel is soft yet drying. The astringency is strongest in the second steep. Spent leaves and needles are pretty small and healthy.

If you’re not a fan of astringency, this may not be a good tea for you. I, however, would like to make this my daily afternoon drinker for the hot months.

Preparation
8 OZ / 236 ML

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60

This isn’t tea. This is a plucking to please some dolts that don’t care about ripping beautiful buds from their parent bushes.

PINEY, CITRUSY HOPS. One note. If you find any other flavors or aromas, congrats?

If you’re a fan of IPA beers but can’t drink before or during work, this bud’s for you. If you’re that hard-pressed, you could even try carbonating it.

It does taste good cold-brewed with fresh basil. Because basil. That’s how I’m getting rid of this. Slamming a liter as soon as I wake up.

This makes me sound snobby but it’s really all tongue-in-cheek. Needless to say, I’m not a fan but others who like really light teas and some piney, citrusy sweetness might enjoy this. Re-brews forever. You can go as far as the buds almost falling apart.

Leafhopper

Yeah, the puerh bud tea I had a while ago was very similar. Those poor buds could have done better. :(

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88

Yesterday, I received my first BTTC order. Thus far, I’ve already finished the Taiping HoKui freebie and later found myself perusing their website for a teapot. (Please, please nobody buy that blue one tonight!!) My hand ended up back in the shipping box on its own accord, as if it were non-chalantly possessed. It picked the most expensive 10g sample, a high mountain oolong, of which I have little experience. Bare with me. I’ll do my best to not make the review too long or convoluted.

April 2018 harvest. 5g, 100mL gaiwan, 195F. 10 second rinse followed by 9 steepings at 10/15/20/25/30/45/55/1m10s/1m30s and final truly spent steep at 2m15s.

Dry leaf: orchid, vanilla and butter at their best with a whiff of muted ceylon cinnamon.
Rinsed leaf: buttercream, orchid and vanilla.

The aroma of the leaf remained strong and stable in the first three steeps: orchid, vanilla, brown sugar, violet and collards with butter coming in on the second steep and cream on the third. The aroma of the liquor started off all sweet vanilla and orchid. The taste of the liquor had an underlying mineral and grass theme throughout, starting off with vanilla, orchid, very light ceylon cinnamon with the addition of butter and cream. Nice and silky with a light cooling sensation in the third steep. At this point, I found myself sweating and very relaxed.

In the fourth through sixth steeps, the aroma of the leaf was much the same as the first three but with the vanilla fading out. I’d say the collards became the prominent scent, accented strongly by orchid, cream, butter, lily, violet and a hint of lilac in fifth steep.

Here is where the aroma and taste of the liquor began changing with each steep. Fourth steep produced an aroma of orchid, lily, violet and cream and taste the same as the third. Noticed some salivation here. Fifth steep had the base of the fourth steep with the addition of both the pronounced scent and taste of honey. At this point, the liquor began thinning a bit, and I noticed both a light drying and slickness on the tongue. In the sixth steep, the aroma changed but still had the base orchid, lily, and violet. I also caught fleeting orange blossom and banana. The taste of the liquor here was mostly mineral and floral, backed up by lettuce and grass.

In the seventh steep, the aroma of the leaf began to fade into spinach with honied florals. The aroma of the liquor also began to fade into just orchid, cream. Butter and cream made a reappearance in the mouth.

The eight steep saw the appearance of pine and camphor? in the wet leaf in addition to the spinach and honey. Liquor aroma and taste continued a pleasant fade with orchid and honey in the nose and orchid, butter and mineral in the mouth.

The ninth steep produced a nice, light ending with leaf smelling of peas and wood, aroma of faint rose, apricot and orange blossom and taste of mineral, wood and butter. I tried a tenth steep at 2m15s to see what else I could pull but it literally produced hot water.

This tea is delightful with it’s dominating notes being very sweet, orchid/floral and creamy and possessing a silky mouthfeel. It was well backed by butter, pleasant dark vegetal notes, grass and a not-overbearing minerality. Like I said, I don’t have much experience with high mountain oolongs but this Dayuling seemed very balanced. Nothing was out of place and I feel that it ended on a good note. Good for a treat given its price and lack of longevity.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
derk

Ok, that was kind of long, oh well.

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72

Received as a free sample with my order, thank you! Not listed on their website as of this review.

Gone grandpa. Weighed it out, about 5 grams. Split between 2-12oz glasses, one for me and one to share. 160F.

First time with this style of green tea so I wasn’t really sure what an appropriate leaf amount was but 2.5g per cup turned out to be pretty good.

Awesome shades of bright green, flat-pressed leaves that released an effervescence when I poured water into the glass. Whiff of sulfur. Let it brew for a few minutes. Aroma was light, with mostly nectarine and some vegetal like sweetgrass and green bean. Taste was nice and fruity, with yellow and white nectarine, passionfruit, sweetgrass and green bean. Slightly drying. A pleasant surprise of non-cloying coconut was sitting near the bottom of the cup.

With the first refill, some of the less-than-paper-thin leaves began to disintegrate. Drying mouthfeel increased greatly and the flavors remained consistent but lighter. What leaves ended up in my mouth were edible and not bitter. After the first refill, I’d say this tea was done.

I wish I had more so I could try it cold-brew but my boyfriend wanted in on this sample, too. I’d also like to try it with lower temperature water.

Overall, I’m glad to have tried this type of tea for the first time and will probably seek it out in the future. I enjoyed the fruitiness and refreshing quality. I think having a small snack of fresh mango would complement this really well and detract from the drying mouthfeel.

Refraining from a rating since it’s not available on BTTC’s website as of this review.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 2 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

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85

I finished a sample pouch of this tonight. Yes, tonight. Night. In fact, I never even drank this with breakfast. I did stop by the bougie bakery on my way home from the grocery earlier for a banana bread accompaniment. I don’t know anything about English Breakfast tea beyond teabags drank too long ago to remember the flavor. Forgive me, my English sistren and brethren.

Gone grandpa. 2tsp/Seattle rainy day mug/water off-boiling/nocreamnosugar

This is a mix of Yunnan, Vietnam and Kenya black teas. Sample pouch has spots of golden down from the Yunnan black. Dry leaf smells delicious, like a woody hot cocoa. The brew, from what I can tell is pretty dark and also smells like woody hot cocoa. Tastes about the same, smooth and sweet with a little bit of malt, leather, rose and spice. Mouthfeel is full and very round, slick with cream. I bet some unsweetened almond milk in this would taste divine. Dairy milk or cream might make it too slick. Never sugar for me, but I bet it would be good. Gets a little astringent at the back of the mouth if left to sit but I like it. Spent leaf is bulky, so I recommend against using any kind of teaball doohickie. Got 5-6 top-offs with a definite caffeine kick. Should’ve eaten more food as I ended up getting shaky. I can see it being great for getting moving in cold weather.

I have no comparison to other English Breakfast blacks but this is really good. Thanks a lot for the sample.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

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78

Finished up the 25g package this morning after having a breakfast of leftover homemade veggie soup.

Gone gaiwan this time. 6 grams/150mL glass gaiwan/160-175F/flash rinse/5 second intervals. Did 7 steeps before calling it quits.

Dry leaf today smelled like dark chocolate and walnut.

Wet leaf ranged from roasted bamboo to light brown sugar, cocoa, sesame, green bamboo, white floral, hot linens, toasted sesame, umami, smoke, green beans and chestnut.

Aroma remained pretty light throughout all steeps, with the most noticeable scents being lemon water, white floral and cocoa, followed by butter, roasted nuts, sesame and green bamboo.

Liquor was really pleasant in the first 3 steeps with lemon water, sichuan peppercorn, bamboo, cocoa, very mineral. Smoke came through in the fourth steep and that’s when the brew turned quite bitter and astringent. From the fourth steep on I tasted mineral lemon water and butter, bitterness and astringency, ending with an accompaniment of yellow squash and green bean.

Overall, I really like the profile this tea has to offer. If the bitterness and astringency could be lessened in a future harvest, I’d like to try some more. Upping the rating a few points.

Preparation
6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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97

Following up my Thai eggplant and ground pork takeout with a strong, clean shou to cut the grease.

I’ve brewed this consistently throughout the 1-oz bag. Easy to break off a 5-gram chunk and go western in a ball jar. Couple of 10-second rinses, though after tasting the second rinse, I think only one could be had. Already dark and clear. Fill ’er up with 8oz of boiling water. 30/60/90/120/180/asyouplease.

The brewed liquor smells like the ancient, leaky trailer my friend used to live in on the edge of damp riparian habitat. His mother, the prior occupant, was an indoor chainsmoker. Sounds gross, right? Tastes amazing.

If that offends you, I can say it also reminds me of slogging through a forested swamp in northeastern Ohio on a cloudy and cold November day. It’s about 36F and nearing sundown. Clay and muck and leaf decay stick to my wader’s boots and weigh me down. Somebody within a mile has a fire burning. The smoky particulates stick to my own misty exhalations which I breathe back in, open-mouthed. I’m a sweaty stick of human-landjaeger in these chest waders, forever trudging forward. Sounds gross, right? Tastes amazing!

Ash, earthy fungal loam, humus, smoke, leather, old books, followed by a tingling tongue, decaying dark wood, gray clay (very specific mineral taste for me), tobacco, lighter wood and finally a sweetness like vanilla. Mouthfeel stays light and clean. Cha qi is near instant and unbeatable. Perk up, calm down, both gaze and lights soften. I’m immobilized yet focused within this rusty orange hue. If I were still much of a writer, this would be my choice of beverage for late nights of visualizing and penning.

I’m pretty sure you could manage less leaf, more steeps, lower temperature and still end up with a decent cup.

Sad to see this ounce go. I will order several cakes of this to have as my go-to evening shou.

Preparation
Boiling 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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69

Old written note.

Beautiful, slender green buds tinged with shades of rose and purple, delicate and dry with lots of broken bud, requires a strainer. 6 grams, 150mL glass gaiwan, 165-175F, 5 second rinse, steeps at 5 second intervals.

Both super heady fragrance and taste of cherry blossom, rose, watermelon, apricot, light citrus hops, dill through all steeps. Light in the mouth. Astringency poked in at steep 6 and progressed from there. I pushed it and this tea punished me with unbearable astringency by the 12th steep. Cowered and called it quits there. The brightness of the rose and purple of the dry buds became very vibrant but began to fade when the astringency developed in the 6th steep. Light headache.

Don’t be like me; have some restraint and know when to stop. You’ll be rewarded! Super fruity, floral and fragrant but not my cup. Definitely see the appeal for a different palate, though.
I’d be happy if this were a once a year treat. Since it’s sold in minimum 25g packages, I won’t be purchasing more.

Preparation
6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
Daylon R Thomas

Purples tend to overpower me, too.

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Profile

Bio

Always up for a trade. I keep an updated cupboard. Check it out. Don’t be shy — message me if you want to try something! I send international :)

Most enjoyment:

Wuyi and Taiwanese oolong, sheng puerh, Yunnan and Wuyi blacks, GABA oolong. I also appreciate Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Darjeeling and Nepali teas, bagged tea and herbal teas/tisanes.

I take my teas without milks or sweeteners except sometimes chai and the rare London Fog, matcha latte and golden milk.

I’ll try anything once because it helps me learn. Not opposed to well placed herbs, flowers, fruity bits and flavorings, just nothing cloying. And no added sugars, sweeteners, candy or chocolate.

I abandoned both my preference reference and the recording of detailed steeping parameters in January 2020, favoring a focus on qualitative descriptions. At this point, I am still comfortable toggling the “Not/Recommended” button.

Preference reference:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.
89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be daily drinker teas.
79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.
69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.
59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possess off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.
Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.

Location

Sonoma County, California, USA

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