956 Tasting Notes

80

Okay, here is my final review for the day. This one comes from a little further back in my 2021 review notebook, but not from the first half of the year. I only had an 8g sample pouch of this tea, and I finished it back in either late July or early August. At the time, I was prioritizing some of the 2018 and 2019 teas that I needed to finish, so getting through the small amount of this tea that I had represented a quick sipdown. Prior to trying this tea, my experiences with Old Ways Tea’s Old Tree Shui Xian were largely great, and I had very high expectations for this offering. Though it did not live up to those lofty expectations, it was still a very satisfying, solid offering overall.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This initial infusion was chased by 18 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, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, wood, blackberry, black raspberry, and black cherry. After the rinse, aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and pomegranate emerged along with much subtler aromas of char and smoke. The first infusion introduced very faint scents of grass, chocolate, and orchid. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of roasted almond, orchid, cream, wood, roasted peanut, blueberry, and blackberry that were chased by hints of black raspberry, black cherry, pomegranate, butter, grass, chocolate, cinnamon, char, pear, and smoke. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of orange zest, roasted barley, cream, minerals, plum, blueberry, and red grape. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of butter, black cherry, char, grass, pomegranate, and black raspberry appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, earth, plum, orange zest, red grape, roasted barley, and popcorn. Hints of butterscotch and toasted rice could also be detected. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, earth, cream, wood, roasted almond, grass, roasted barley, and orange zest that were backed up by lingering hints of black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, red grape, popcorn, pomegranate, char, cinnamon, and butterscotch.

This tea produced a liquor that displayed a great deal of depth and complexity as well as good body and texture in the mouth, but I felt that some of its aroma and flavor components were slightly unbalanced. There were sips on which certain aromas and flavors seemed to pop out and dominate, and that produced a very up-and-down drinking experience. I was also hoping to get something new and unique out of this tea, since each of the previous offerings of this variety that I had tried from Old Ways Tea had differentiated themselves from one another in terms of what they had to offer. That wound up being not really the case with this tea. In terms of aroma and flavor, it reminded me of the 2018 Old Tree Shui Xian, but pricklier and more uneven. Still, this was far from a bad offering. As a matter of fact, I found it to be a more or less very good tea. I was just hoping for it to strike me as being a more or less excellent tea like its predecessors had, and it did not do that.

Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Butterscotch, Char, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Popcorn, Raspberry, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Toasted Rice, Wood

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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61

Okay, another of my recent sipdowns is coming at you. I purchased a 100g pouch of this tea last year when I was trapped at home during what I shall from hereafter refer to as Plague Year #1. I was looking for some affordable teas to goof off with, so I was checking out each of What-Cha’s bargain bin offerings and snapping up the ones I thought were most interesting and/or that I thought I could get away with storing for a while should I develop the need. When I saw this tea, I just had to get it. I had never tried a Rwandan tea, and since What-Cha has always had a great track record with their African offerings, I assumed that I would be into this one. Upon trying it, I was reminded of why I should never make assumptions. I did not get around to cracking this tea open until I was preparing to go on a kayaking trip with my father, my cousin, and my cousin’s girlfriend. I stayed up the night before we left packing and cleaning my house and then brewed two large thermoses of this tea before my father and I hit the road. I thought it would be cool for us to try a tea that was wholly new to both of us and to compare notes while we were on the road. Well, it turned out that my father was dealing with sinusitis, so he couldn’t taste or smell anything, and I, well, really didn’t care for this tea at first. It eventually grew on me a little, but it was mostly a malty, woody, dry kind of tea that I ultimately felt could have used a bit more sweetness for balance.

For my review session, I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. I did not rinse the leaves prior to steeping nor did I attempt any additional steeps.

Prior to steeping, the dry tea leaves presented aromas of baked bread, malt, and raisin. After steeping, I detected new aromas of cream, butter, roasted almond, and vanilla that were underscored by subtle scents of prune and honey. In the mouth, the tea liquor was dry and brisk, offering up notes of wood, grass, hay, roasted walnut, roasted hickory, roasted almond, cocoa, cream, butter, brown sugar, roasted sweet potato, baked bread, malt, leather, earth, orange zest, and roasted potato that were balanced by subtler notes of vanilla, smoke, raisin, prune, pear, honey, and cinnamon. Each sip finished with pronounced bitterness and astringency enveloping oily roasted nut notes and leathery, buttery, malty, woody impressions.

After trying this tea for the first time whilst on the road and hating it, I expected to hate it even more when I came back to it, but the more I tinkered with it, the more I appreciated it. It was not a knockout tea by any means, but it had a lot to offer, displaying much more depth and complexity than I initially thought was present. In my opinion, this tea worked best as a basic breakfast tea. It offered a quick hit of lasting energy to keep me going through the first part of the day and was just astringent, bitter, and flavorful enough to instantly cut through my morning grogginess. If, like me, you are not a morning person, putting something like this in your system as soon as you get moving is a great way to perk yourself up for the day. Unfortunately, if you are looking for something that offers a memorable and fun drinking experience on its own, a tea like this will likely not fit the bill. If it had possessed just a little more sweetness, it would have been more satisfying for me, but as it was, it was not the most exciting of African black teas. Just use this one as your morning pick-me-up, and you’ll probably be fine with it.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Baked Bread, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Earth, Grass, Hay, Honey, Leather, Malt, Nutty, Orange Zest, Pear, Potato, Prune, Raisins, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
derk

How was the kayaking trip?

eastkyteaguy

It was alright. I wasn’t really in shape for it, as it ended up being a little higher intensity than anticipated, but it could have been worse. I got to swim and wade around in the Holston River, pick paw paws off the banks of river islands, and pet a couple of cute kitties at the airbnb my cousin and his girlfriend rented. It was cool, but I did end up overexerting myself and kind of suffered through the last day and several days afterwards. As I continue to work on getting healthier, I hope to do it again.

mrmopar

Hard core drinkers always take our beverages wherever we go.

eastkyteaguy

True. So very, very true.

Evol Ving Ness

Haha, I used to begin my day by stocking my bag with a couple of thermoses and two or three carry canisters. Plus my carry mug. I stopped the insanity when the weight had negative impact on both my bag and my shoulder.

Of course, now, in semi-lockdown, I stay close to my tea kettle.

derk

It was probably good to get out in nature at least and get your heart pumping. Never had a paw paw fruit despite seeing the trees here and there in southern Ohio. What do they taste like? Unrelated, but related to your location, Mom’s been doing the whole family tree thing and found out there are still relatives outside of Hazard, one of whom she recently met. Maybe one day you and I will have tea.

eastkyteaguy

derk, paw paws are similar to fruits like cherimoya and soursop (they’re in the same family). The flesh is very creamy, and the taste is similar to a banana, but in my opinion, a little more acidic. Think of them like a tart banana custard in fruit form. Also, you have family near Hazard. That’s terrifying. I live just shy of an hour northeast of Perry County, but I am getting ready for a potential move to Lexington. I seem to recall you mentioning that you were from Ohio or that you lived there for some time. I actually went to school near Cincinnati for a little over a year. I also used to work for a company that had a regional hub in Hazard and had to drive there for trainings on a regular basis. If you haven’t been, Hazard is a rough, strange place. Eastern Kentucky, as a whole, is like that though.

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74

It seems as if I am in the mood to review Shui Xian today. This was another recent sipdown of mine, from about 2 weeks ago. I recall drinking this tea the day after I drank and composed notes for the Zhangping Shui Xian black tea mini-cake I just reviewed. To this point, I have found that Zhangping Shui Xian is very hit or miss for me. This one was not terrible, but it also displayed some notable flaws that I found irksome.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped the entire tea cake in approximately 165 ml of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This initial infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea cake produced aromas of cream, butter, custard, gardenia, and orange blossom. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of grass and honeysuckle. The first infusion introduced a sugarcane aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, grass, sugarcane, lemon, and green wood that were chased by hints of orange blossom, green apple, pear, honeysuckle, gardenia, and baked bread. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of minerals, green apple, plum, baked bread, cucumber, and white grape. Stronger and more immediately presented notes of orange blossom, green apple, honeysuckle, and pear greeted each sip as this tea reached its peak, while mineral, custard, plum, lettuce, apricot, white grape, orange zest, and cucumber notes also emerged. Hints of spinach, coriander, and mushroom persistently lurked around the fringes, making themselves most apparent on each swallow. As the tea faded, the mushroom presence swelled while notes of minerals, cream, butter, baked bread, sugarcane, grass, and lettuce continued to be emphasized. Fleeting impressions of orange zest, honeysuckle, spinach, orange blossom, plum, pear, white grape, and green apple dominated each swallow.

Since I am most used to light roasted Zhangping Shui Xian, this tea represented a return to more familiar territory for me. Just about everything I would expect to encounter in a light roasted Zhangping Shui Xian cake was present in abundance, but I did note some issues that I should take the time to illustrate. First, I noticed that the leaf quality in the cake I received was terrible. I have no clue whether or not this was an issue with many or all of these cakes, but there was a ton of grit and dust on the inside of the cake, so as it loosened and unraveled over the course of my drinking session, more and more ground-up leaf and stem gunk made its way into my cup. Trying to filter it out was both a nightmare and nigh impossible. Second, this struck me as being rather large for a Zhangping Shui Xian cake. I think the cake I received weighed around 9 or 10 grams, and unfortunately, I did not have a gaiwan large enough to accommodate it. I did the best I could with what I had, but the end result was that I effectively overloaded my largest available gaiwan. Normally, that would not have been a big deal, but this tea displayed such powerful grassiness, bitterness, and astringency on the early infusions that getting through to the good stuff it had to offer was a chore. I noticed those qualities remained throughout my drinking session, though to a much lesser extent, so while I may have been able to rein them in by brewing this tea in a larger and more appropriate vessel, it is extremely unlikely that I would have been able to fully tame them, let alone eliminate them entirely. Overall, this tea was far from terrible, but it did strike me as having some issues. It was enjoyable, but it displayed enough roughness and unevenness to limit its appeal for me. Those of you who have this tea in your collections and have yet to try it, be aware that you will need a fairly sizable brewing vessel for it, and you will need to pay careful attention to the time and spacing of each steep, should you be set on brewing it gong fu.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Green Wood, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Lettuce, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Pear, Plum, Spinach, Sugarcane, White Grapes

Preparation
9 g 6 OZ / 165 ML
Daylon R Thomas

The pillows I got were just as finicky. They were not as flexible as they had been the first time I had them, but you really have to be careful to get them right.

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56

It’s a lovely fall Sunday here in the middle of nowhere, and predictably, I’m sick again. Our weather has been fluctuating from very warm, rainy, and humid to cool and dry every few days, and as a result, I have been dealing with constant allergy and sinus flare-ups. Yesterday I was so drained of energy and felt so awful that all I managed to do after dragging myself through the workday was plop down on my couch with my cats and watch Spirited Away on dvd. Some people with real jobs and lives go out on Friday nights. Clearly, I am not one of those people. Anyway, as I’m stuck home sick today, I figured I may as well be somewhat productive and crank out a few tea reviews.

Before I get to the meat of this review, I should state that I very likely did not get to try this tea at its best. I normally try to consume every tea I buy or am gifted within 12-36 months of harvest, unless it’s something like pu-erh, which I know I can just throw back for however long I want or need. Unfortunately, that did not happen with this tea. This black tea mini-cake was produced during the 2017 harvest, and I just got around to trying it a little less than two weeks ago. It was supposed to be consumed within 36 months of production, as opposed to 4+ years. Luckily for me, it seemed to have held up well in storage, though I could tell it had lost some vibrancy and complexity. I’m not sure that was a major loss, though, as I kind of doubt this tea would have done much for me had I tried it when it was younger and at or closer to its prime.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped the 6 gram mini-cake 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 mini-cake presented aromas of malt, chocolate, lemon, and orange zest. After the rinse, aromas of honey, maple syrup, sugarcane, blackberry, blueberry, and roasted almond appeared. The first infusion introduced a baked bread aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered thin notes of malt, raisin, chocolate, lemon, sugarcane, blueberry, and baked bread that were chased by hints of honey, brown sugar, tobacco, roasted almond, blackberry, and maple syrup. The subsequent infusions quickly brought forth aromas of raisin, cinnamon, brown sugar, black raspberry, tobacco, and mulberry. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of maple syrup, blackberry, roasted almond, and honey came out in the mouth alongside mineral, black raspberry, and mulberry notes. Hints of orange zest, earth, cinnamon, sweet potato, and wood were also present. As the tea faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, chocolate, lemon, and roasted almond that were balanced by subtler notes of sweet potato, sugarcane, honey, earth, wood, tobacco, and orange zest.

This was an interesting offering, but it did not quite satisfy me. I liked a lot of the aroma and flavor components that were present in this tea, but they never fully came together. This tea also faded rather quickly (perhaps due to its age) and displayed a little roughness around the edges. It produced a very uneven drinking experience overall.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Earth, Fruity, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Maple Syrup, Mineral, Orange Zest, Raisins, Raspberry, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Hope you feel reasonably human soon!

derk

Hey guy, I feel you. Allergies here in May-July leave me a husk of a human. Spirited Away and cats sounds like a mellow recovery.

eastkyteaguy

Thanks, gang. Going to be starting some medication for it tomorrow since I’m teetering on the brink of a full-blown sinus infection.

LuckyMe

Ghibli movies are always a good choice for anime. Hope you get feeling better soon!

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85

Alright, I’m posting one more review before signing off for the day. Like the last couple I have posted, this one is for another of my recent sipdowns. By the time I got around to trying this tea, I was no stranger to Yunnan purple black teas, but it had been at least a year since I had tried one. Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable, satisfying offering.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick 5 second rinse (I have always preferred shorter rinses for Chinese and Taiwanese black teas for whatever reason), I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 18 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, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of malt, grapefruit, blood orange, cedar, dark chocolate, blackberry, cinnamon, and peach. After the rinse, aromas of red grape, grass, brown sugar, and roasted peanut appeared. The first infusion introduced a roasted almond aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, malt, earth, roasted almond, dark chocolate, red grape, blackberry, and blood orange that were balanced by subtler notes of cinnamon, cooked green beans, brown sugar, baked bread, roasted peanut, and grapefruit. The subsequent infusions quickly brought out aromas of pine, baked bread, lemon, minerals, and camphor. Stronger and more obvious impressions of grapefruit, cooked green beans, baked bread, and brown sugar appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, pine, lemon, pear, red apple, black cherry, and plum. I also detected hints of grass, peach, cedar, camphor, smoke, sugarcane, and maple candy. As the tea faded, the liquor shifted to emphasize notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, roasted almond, brown sugar, and cream that were chased by fleeting impressions of black cherry, blackberry, plum, blood orange, grass, grapefruit, pine, red grape, pear, maple candy, and dark chocolate.

This was a very solid Yunnan purple black tea with a ton to offer. Honestly, its depth and complexity came close to being a little overwhelming at times, but I avoided letting this tea get the better of me. It was also very refined and layered in the way it expressed itself and displayed a playful, energetic presence. In the end, this was a very nice tea, but it was also one that I thought could have been just a bit more focused. I think had some of its subtler flavor components been a bit clearer and more amplified, it would have felt a little more balanced and drinkable than it came off as being.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Brown Sugar, Camphor, Candy, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Grapefruit, Grapes, Grass, Green Beans, Lemon, Malt, Maple, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Red Apple, Smoke, Sugarcane

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
derk

Those Yunnan wild purple blacks operate at high frequency.

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64

This was another of my more recent sipdowns. It was also a tea that was wholly new to me. I normally don’t think of oolongs when I think of Ceylonese tea and prefer to stick with the more familiar and readily available Ceylonese black teas while occasionally giving some time to a Ceylonese green or white tea, but when I saw this tea, I was immediately intrigued. I purchased it shortly after What-Cha listed it, but naturally, I didn’t get around to trying it until a little earlier this month. While I loved this tea’s unique and appealing presentation, it was not entirely successful otherwise, as I found the tea liquor to be a bit lacking in body, depth, and complexity.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped approximately 6 grams of the formed tea leaves in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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 produced aromas of honey, malt, sweet potato, and brown sugar. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of cream, butter, and sorghum molasses underscored by a subtle stewed tomato scent. The first infusion introduced aromas of sugarcane and candied orange. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, sorghum molasses, sweet potato, and honey that were balanced by subtler impressions of sugarcane, malt, brown sugar, minerals, pear, and roasted almond. The subsequent infusions revealed aromas of apricot, plum, tamarind, pear, and apple that were balanced by subtle baked bread scents. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of minerals, pear, roasted almond, sugarcane, and malt appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of apricot, tamarind, plum, apple, and lemon zest. Hints of baked bread, stewed tomato, and candied orange were also present. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, sorghum molasses, cream, malt, lemon zest, sweet potato, honey, and sugarcane that were underscored by lingering hints of apple, pear, roasted almond, butter, candied orange, and brown sugar.

This was a very interesting tea with a ton of longevity, but it was just lacking some characteristics that would have made it more appealing to me. As mentioned towards the end of this review’s introductory paragraph, the liquor was a bit thin and struck me as being slightly lacking in depth and complexity. At times, it also came off as being somewhat unbalanced, as the aroma and flavor components sometimes fought one another. This was also a very, very sweet tea. That may not be an issue for some people, but I often found the sweetness overwhelming. In the end, I am certainly glad that I took the opportunity to try this tea. I actually did enjoy it to a certain extent, though I also feel that its flaws were very noticeable and virtually impossible to overlook. Still, it was definitely not an offering to avoid.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Apricot, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Candy, Cream, Fruity, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange, Pear, Plum, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Sierge Krьstъ

I remember this one from years ago, my expectation was oolongy as a misnomer for blue.

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77

Hey, all. After five days of laziness, I have returned with a new review. This was one of my more recent sipdowns, as I finished my 25g pouch of this tea late last week. Sadly, this ended up being a tea that I wish I enjoyed more than I did. Normally, I am a huge fan of Assam black teas, but this one I struggled with consistently.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped approximately 3 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. I did not rinse the leaves prior to steeping nor did I attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves presented aromas of malt, sweet potato, baked bread, and caramel. After infusion, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, honey, cream, butter, and roasted potato that were underscored by subtler aromas of tomato and menthol. In the mouth, the tea liquor was thin and biting, presenting notes of malt, cream, butter, baked bread, sweet potato, roasted almond, roasted potato, lemon, leather, and roasted walnut that were balanced by subtler impressions of wood, tomato, grapefruit pith, pear, apple, plum, honey, menthol, molasses, caramel, orange zest, red grape, and watermelon rind. Each sip finished in an oily, malty, nutty, and leathery fashion before a swell of bitterness and astringency arose after each swallow.

Honestly, I am still not entirely sure how I feel about this tea. It was complex and presented some unique aromas and flavors, but I also did not find the texture and body of the tea liquor to be all that appealing and found the way it expressed itself to be a bit rough, inconsistent, and unfocused overall. I have no clue where the folks at What-Cha picked up on raspberry jam notes, because I found nothing of the sort in this tea. It struck me as being an astringent, tart, bitter, oily, leathery, nutty, malty tea with some pleasant starchy, vegetal, and sweetly fruity notes scattered throughout. I was hoping for more of either a grassy, vegetal presence or some sort of minty or otherwise herbal presence, since I lately tend to notice such characteristics in teas produced from the clonal Panetola 126 cultivar, but I found such notes to be a bit lacking in this tea. Even when I backed off on the water temperature and reduced the steep time in some of my other brewing attempts, the results were very similar to what I described in the paragraph above. Overall, this was not a bad tea, but it was not quite to my liking. I tend to prefer smoother, creamier, maltier Assam black teas, so this tea did not quite hit the spot for me. Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on it or expected too much, but to me, this was just a pretty good offering. I would not rush to try it again.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Astringent, Baked Bread, Bitter, Butter, Caramel, Cream, Fruity, Grapefruit, Grapes, Honey, Leather, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Molasses, Orange Zest, Pear, Plum, Potato, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
tea-sipper

Thanks for reporting on this one. I’m always looking for Hattialli!

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83

Alright, round two. This was one of my sipdowns from either late July or early August. That’s right. We’re not dipping quite as far into my nearly three year backlog with this belated review. In the month plus since I have polished off what I had of this tea, I still do not quite know what to make of it. I am providing a numerical score with this review, but honestly, I am not confident my score does this tea justice. Like many of the other offerings Rohini cranks out, this was a very quirky, playful tea that was difficult for me to compare to anything else.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped approximately 3 grams of loose leaf material in about 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not rinse the leaves prior to infusion nor did I attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to steeping, the loose leaf material produced aromas of almond, grass, hay, straw, and pine that were accompanied by a subtle fennel scent. After steeping, I detected aromas of muscatel, basil, cream, orange blossom, orange zest, dandelion, lemon, and coriander coming from the tea liquor. In the mouth, the liquor presented notes of grass, hay, straw, lemon, pine, almond, dandelion, dandelion greens, muscatel, orange zest, orange blossom, basil, cream, butter, and baked bread that were supported by hints of fennel, minerals, coriander, green wood, apricot, plum, and pear. The finish was fruity, vegetal, and herbal with just enough malt, cream, and butter notes on the swallow to provide some balance and stave off astringency and bitterness.

For a second flush Darjeeling black tea, this was very strange. Just looking at the loose leaf material, I could have easily mistaken this for a combination of first flush and second flush material had I not already known this was a second flush tea. The tea liquor also fell somewhere between a first flush and a second flush tea in terms of its appearance, body, and texture and in terms of the aroma and flavor components I detected. This tea was too vegetal and brisk to closely resemble most of the second flush Darjeeling black teas I have tried, but it was also too savory, fruity, and thick-bodied to closely resemble most of the first flush Darjeeling black teas I have tried. Overall, this was an interesting Darjeeling black tea, but I was hoping for something a little more consistent and a little more reminiscent of some of the classic second flush Darjeeling black teas that I have enjoyed in the past.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Basil, Coriander, Cream, Dandelion, Fennel, Grass, Green Wood, Hay, Lemon, Mineral, Muscatel, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Pear, Pine, Plum, Straw, Vegetal

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
mrmopar

Heading towards Boone mid October.

eastkyteaguy

I wish I were heading down that way. Sadly, I’m probably going to be spending my October recovering from surgery.

Evol Ving Ness

I hope it’s nothing too serious,eastkyteaguy, and that you will keep us posted.

mrmopar

Shoot hate hearing that. I will be praying for your speedy recovery when it happens.

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71

Okay, since I have been rained out for the remainder of the day (no outdoor work for me), I figured I may as well pop back on here and post a review or two. I had to go back and add this tea to the database, though I could have sworn that I had already added it at least once. I couldn’t find any information about this tea online, and I could only get close with the photo. All I know about it is that it was the light roasted version of Old Ways Tea’s 2019 Gao Cong Shui Xian. I can’t provide any other information about this tea. I only had an 8g sample pouch to work with, and I ended up trying it alongside some of Old Ways Tea’s other 2019 Shui Xian oolongs several months back. Of the bunch that I tried at the time, this one was the least satisfying of the lot, though it was not exactly a bad offering. In truth, Gao Cong Shui Xian is always rather hit or miss with me.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second 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 cinnamon, roasted almond, wood, char, roasted barley, and black cherry. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted peanut, blueberry, blackberry, and orange zest that were underscored by a subtle orchid scent. The first infusion introduced something of a red grape aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of wood, roasted almond, grass, char, cream, and butter that were balanced by hints of orchid, daylily, red grape, cinnamon, and blueberry. The bulk of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of caramel, rock candy, cream, butter, baked bread, minerals, and toasted rice. Stronger and more immediately apparent notes of orchid, red grape, daylily and cinnamon appeared in the mouth alongside mineral, roasted peanut, blackberry, roasted barley, baked bread, orange zest, black cherry, and toasted rice impressions. I also detected subtler notes of pomegranate, plum, rock candy, lemon, caramel, straw, and earth. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor started emphasizing notes of minerals, roasted almond, grass, roasted barley, orange zest, and toasted rice that were chased by notes of caramel, red grape, blackberry, blueberry, baked bread, roasted peanut, lemon, black cherry, and surprisingly enough, popcorn.

This was a pleasant enough Gao Cong Shui Xian, but it did not exactly captivate me. It did not offer anything that struck me as being unique, and there were numerous times in which I found the tea liquor to be a bit flabby and the balance of the flavor components to be somewhat out of whack. It was far from a terrible tea, but so far, it has also been the least appealing of Old Ways Tea’s 2019 oolongs that I have tried.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Candy, Caramel, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Lemon, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Plum, Popcorn, Roasted Barley, Straw, Toasted Rice, Wood

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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82

While I’m still in the mood to write and have a little time before I have to get back to work, here is another review from my backlog. This is another tea I finished earlier in the year. It was also a totally new experience for me, as I had never tried or even heard of Po Tou Xiang Dan Cong prior to this one. Did it make a good first impression on me? Yeah, for the most part, it did, but it also did not wow me so much that I will be frequently making much of an effort to track down more Po Tou Xiang.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 7 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, smoke, char, and cherry. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of cream, butter, roasted almond, orchid, and cannabis. The first infusion brought out subtle aromas of blackberry and roasted peanut. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, grass, roasted almond, cherry, and butter that were balanced by hints of cannabis, cinnamon, earth, orchid, smoke, blackberry, and roasted peanut. The bulk of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of vanilla, blueberry, mulberry, baked bread, minerals, orange zest, and rock candy. At times, I also picked up on a subtle violet scent. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of orchid, blackberry, and earth appeared in the mouth alongside mineral, sugarcane, orange zest, blueberry, mulberry, and violet notes. I also consistently detected subtler impressions of char, vanilla, baked bread, toasted rice, pear, rock candy, and white grape, as well as an interesting and unexpected hint of green apple after each swallow. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor began to emphasize mineral, baked bread, orange zest, grass, sugarcane, violet, butter, mulberry, and blackberry notes that were balanced by lingering hints of orchid, roasted almond, cherry, rock candy, charcoal, white grape, toasted rice, green apple, and blueberry.

This was an incredibly odd and challenging Dan Cong oolong with highly unique aroma and flavor profiles. It also produced a tea liquor that was constantly shifting in terms of weight and texture in the mouth. There were times where I expected it to hit me hard, and it never did, but then there were other times where I expected it to calm down and thin out, and it instead presented as being strong and heavy. Honestly, I am still not entirely certain what to make of it. I can say that I most certainly enjoyed this tea, but I also found it to be a bit much. I think I’ll primarily stick with my preferred Dan Cong oolongs for now, but should I ever get the opportunity to try another Pou Tou Xiang, I doubt I will pass on it.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Candy, Cannabis, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Green Apple, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pear, Smoke, Sugarcane, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Violet, White Grapes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.

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KY

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