832 Tasting Notes

83

This was my next-to-last August sipdown. It was also a tea I expected to like a little more than I did. Understand that I’m not saying that I found it to be subpar in any way; I’m just such a huge fan of Feng Qing black teas that I expected this one to leave a greater impression. As it turned out, I found this to be a very good tea, but I also found it to be a little underpowered compared to some of the other Feng Qing offerings I have tried over the past couple of years.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 19 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, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry buds emitted aromas of chocolate, malt, cream, cedar, and brown sugar. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of roasted almond, raisin, and banana that were underscored by subtle smoke and eucalyptus scents. The first infusion introduced aromas of vanilla, butter, and baked bread. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, cream, raisin, and chocolate that were chased by roasted almond, butter, brown sugar, vanilla, honey, and cedar hints. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of honey, camphor, maple syrup, marshmallow, roasted pecan, praline, earth, black pepper, and lemon zest as well as subtle scents of tomato. Much stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of roasted almond, vanilla, butter, honey, brown sugar, and baked bread appeared in the mouth. I also picked up new impressions of maple syrup, praline, roasted pecan, pear, plum, banana, tomato, minerals, lemon zest, orange zest, earth, and marshmallow. There were even some subtle hints of cinnamon, black pepper, eucalyptus, smoke, and camphor that could be detected. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized notes of minerals, earth, baked bread, chocolate, lemon zest, orange zest, and roasted almond that were balanced by a melange of roasted pecan, marshmallow, vanilla, brown sugar, tomato, honey, butter, camphor, and eucalyptus hints.

This was a nice tea, one that struck me as being reserved and refined but also perhaps a bit stuffy. It had a ton to offer, but rather than laying everything out in a straightforward fashion, it made me work to get definite impressions out of it. It would definitely not be the sort of tea I would choose to consume on a regular basis, though I would most certainly be willing to try some of the productions from the more recent harvests because I’m still not certain I was able to get the best feel for what this tea had to offer.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Camphor, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Maple Syrup, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange Zest, Pear, Pecan, Plums, Raisins, Smoke, Sweet, Vanilla, Vegetal

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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84

Here is a review from the backlog. I can’t remember precisely when I finished what I had of this tea. I want to say the sipdown came either during the second half of July or the first half of August. I recall liking this tea more than either of the previous reviewers. My notes indicated that I appreciated its complexity and depth but felt that it had a few noticeable rough edges.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 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 roasted barley, toasted rice, vanilla, cream, butter, and baked bread as well as a subtle orchid scent. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of cinnamon, steamed milk, brown sugar, and honey that were accompanied by a subtle chocolate scent. The first infusion introduced aromas of roasted almond, caramelized banana, bamboo, and grass. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of roasted barley, toasted rice, honey, cream, butter, bamboo, vanilla, and orchid that were chased by hints of cinnamon, grass, baked bread, brown sugar, roasted almond, toasted sweet corn, and steamed milk. There were also lingering vegetal notes in the aftertaste that struck me as being reminiscent of cattail shoots and spinach. The subsequent infusions produced new aromas of parsley, spinach, cucumber, umami, apple, and white grape that were accompanied by a slightly stronger chocolate scent. Chocolate and caramelized banana notes appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of sweet potato, caramel, wood, minerals, daylily, daylily shoots, apple, pear, white grape, cucumber, and meaty, brothy umami. I also detected some hints of parsley and noted stronger, more forward impressions of baked bread, grass, steamed milk, and roasted almond. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, wood, baked bread, toasted rice, cattail shoots, spinach, grass, roasted barley, umami, and cream that were backed by hints of vanilla, butter, roasted almond, cucumber, and apple.

This tea had a lot to offer, but there were also times when certain notes overpowered and distracted from others. It also displayed a very dry, woody mouthfeel and was very heavy-bodied. Compared to some of the other Dong Ding oolongs I have tried, it was not the smoothest, and it was also not the most approachable or the most drinkable, but it was still a quality tea. I would not recommend that those curious about Dong Ding oolongs or those looking for a quality daily drinker go right for this one, but when something stronger and heartier is called for, this would be the oolong to choose.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, Bamboo, banana, Brown Sugar, Butter, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Cucumber, Floral, Grass, Honey, Milk, Mineral, Orchid, Parsley, Roasted Barley, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Toasted Rice, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal, White Grapes, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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80

Hey all, before I start this review, I’d like to share a major life update. I know some of you are aware that I have been waffling on going back to school, and well, I think I have finally decided to do it. I’ve spent a considerable amount of my time trying to figure out what I really want out of my professional life, and I finally came to the conclusion that a very public-oriented career was not going to be for me because I’m just not a people person. I have pretty serious anxiety issues, so something more stressful was also out of the question. I knew I needed something quiet that offered a tremendous amount of autonomy and alone time, so I have decided to become a librarian. There is a rather highly regarded graduate program in Library and Information Sciences at the University of Kentucky, which is just two hours west of where I’m living now, and since applications for the spring semester are being accepted until mid-November, I decided to go ahead and apply for it. I am in no financial shape to do this, but I also don’t have any real debts and no serious financial obligations, so I am at a point in my life where I can afford to start over from scratch. I figure I can also spend a semester going part-time and then move and work on acquiring funding over the summer when more assistantships become available. This field seems like a perfect fit for me because a good deal of my academic and professional background involves information management. I also think my background in composition and teaching will help me stand out a little from the crowd.

Now that I have gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to talking about this tea. This tea represented a step into uncharted territory for me as I had never tried a Taiwanese white tea prior to trying this one. The best way for me to describe it would be almost like a Bai Mudan or Shou Mei but with the minty characteristics of a Red Jade black tea. I found it enjoyable, though I also felt that it was a bit rough in places and packed a caffeine wallop that was a bit much. Essentially, I would have to be in the mood for this sort of profile in order to approach another tea like this one.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of malt, sweet potato, baked bread, wintergreen, and honey. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of butter and peppermint as well as a stronger wintergreen presence. The first infusion brought out subtle scents of vanilla, cream, and grass. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, cream, grass, butter, and wintergreen that were chased by hints of baked bread, honey, vanilla, and sweet potato. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of brown sugar, autumn leaves, hay, earth, and celery as well as subtler scents of grape leaves, spinach, and green olives. I also detected slightly amplified cream and grass aromas. Notes of brown sugar, earth, hay, minerals, wood, coffee, and autumn leaves appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging peppermint notes, hints of butterscotch, and slightly stronger and more immediately noticeable baked bread and honey impressions. Impressions of green olive, celery, spinach, and grape leaf appeared as well. They were subtle at first but grew slightly stronger with each infusion until the tea started to fade. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized notes of minerals, malt, grass, hay, wood, grape leaf, butter, celery, and earth that were underscored by hints of wintergreen, sweet potato, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and spinach.

This was a very odd white tea. Its caffeine punch was reminiscent of a Red Jade black tea, and its aroma and flavor profiles were very bizarre. Still, its aroma and flavor components managed to work together better than expected. Though certain aroma and flavor components could be prickly or poorly integrated here and there, everything worked together for the most part. The mouthfeel of the tea liquor could also be a little rough in places. These are fairly minor quibbles, however, as I still consider this to be a high quality tea. Overall, it was enjoyable. There were just a few noticeable issues here and there that held it back in my eyes.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Brown Sugar, Butter, Butter, Butterscotch, Butterscotch, Celery, Celery, Coffee, Coffee, Cream, Cream, Earth, Earth, Grass, Grass, Hay, Hay, Herbaceous, Herbaceous, Honey, Honey, Malt, Malt, Mineral, Mineral, Olives, Olives, Peppermint, Peppermint, Spinach, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Vanilla, Vegetal, Vegetal, Wood, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Mastress Alita

Congrats! I’ve been a librarian for 15 years now and love it!

mrmopar

Indeed! Good luck on the venture.

ashmanra

Yay! I hope you LOVE it! A friend of mine was medical librarian for our local hospital, and now works in the library of a college with a med school. She started out in public libraries and public school libraries. I hope it is a great fit for you!

derk

Well wishes, guy.

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85

This was my most recent sipdown as I finished what I had of this tea earlier in the afternoon. You know it’s funny that the opportunity to try this tea and some other Ceylonese offerings came along when it did because I’d been getting steadily more curious about Ceylonese tea over the course of the year, and then Lasith at teakruthi came along and offered the opportunity to try some free samples in exchange for Steepster reviews. Naturally, I jumped at this opportunity. I was going to be setting aside some money to purchase some new Ceylonese teas in the fall months, but I figured if I could get some free Ceylonese tea instead, then I may as well do that and use the money I was going to be setting aside to make a few other tea purchases instead. More tea, especially more free tea, is never a bad thing, and quite frankly, I’d been getting a bit bored of Chinese black teas and needed something new and exciting to keep me going during the season’s long, grueling work days. This tea certainly fit the bill.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped approximately 3 grams of loose leaf material in 8 ounces of 194 F water for 3 minutes. I did not rinse the leaf material prior to steeping, but I did follow up the aforementioned 3 minute infusion with a 5 minute infusion and a 7 minute infusion.

Prior to the first infusion, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of honey, malt, pine, straw, orange zest, and chocolate. I noted new aromas of cream, steamed milk, and toast afterwards. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of pine, straw, toast, cream, honey, malt, orange zest, chocolate, caramel, prune, steamed milk, and roasted almond that were accompanied by faint hints of apricot and slightly stronger hints of beeswax, minerals, earth, and leather. Each swallow yielded menthol, black pepper, and tobacco notes that imparted a combination of prickly and cooling sensations on the tongue and back of the throat. I could also pick up the expected coppery tang that seems to be so common to Kandy black teas.

The second infusion saw the tea’s bouquet greatly soften. Roasted almond scents emerged alongside stronger aromas of cream, malt, and steamed milk. A slightly amplified earthiness came out in the mouth alongside stronger notes of malt, steamed milk, roasted almond, and cream. New notes of sweet potato emerged, and I also was still able to discern some lingering honey and caramel notes as well as slightly muted black pepper, menthol, and tobacco impressions after each swallow. Interestingly, I picked up far less of a coppery note in the liquor, though I could still make it out to a limited extent.

The third and final infusion saw the liquor lose virtually all of its bouquet. On the palate, the liquor was soft and subtly malty and creamy. The previously subtle minerality was greatly amplified at this point, and much of the liquor’s other notes had either completely disappeared or were so muted as to be just barely perceptible at most times.

This tea was a pleasant surprise for me. It was deeper and more complex than I was expecting, and it also displayed more longevity than I’m used to getting out of many Ceylonese black teas. I could easily tell that this was a Kandy black tea due to it frequently emphasizing body and texture over individual flavor components and the fact that it displayed that unmistakable coppery note. This being a flowery fannings grade tea, I was not expecting much, but this tea delivered on all fronts. Though I would have liked to see greater separation between some of the flavor components at several points, this was still an incredibly likable offering that would probably be especially enjoyable for drinkers who look for a good deal of body and texture in their brews but who also appreciate strong aromas and flavors. Essentially what I’m getting at here is this struck me as a very well-rounded Ceylonese black tea that had a bit of everything to offer. It would be well worth a try for those who are looking for a great value black tea suitable for afternoon consumption.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Black Pepper, Caramel, Chocolate, Cream, Dried Fruit, Earth, Honey, Leather, Malt, Menthol, Metallic, Milk, Mineral, Orange Zest, Pine, Straw, Sweet Potatoes, Toast, Tobacco

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

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72

This was another of my sipdowns from earlier in the month. I had been meaning to get around to drinking this tea for a couple of months, but I first got on a big black tea kick and then moved on to Wuyi oolongs before finally breaking this tea out to change things up and prevent myself from falling into a rut. It had been way too long since I had reviewed a Dancong oolong anyway. Unfortunately, this tea reminded me that Xing Ren Xiang is not always one of my favorite types of Dancong oolong. I sometimes find them to be a little too gritty and/or soapy in the mouth, and I also sometimes find them to be a little boring. Both criticisms applied to this tea, but honestly, it was not bad overall.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of roasted almond, cream, custard, and orchid as well as some indistinct citrus and pineapple aromas. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of orange blossom, geranium, vanilla, nutmeg, and grass as well as stronger and clearer pineapple scents. The first infusion introduced aromas of tangerine, peach, and steamed milk. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of roasted almond, cream, orchid, steamed milk, grass, tangerine, and orange blossom that were chased by hints of peach, geranium, butter, wood, and nutmeg. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of wood, rose, pear, plum, sugarcane, butter, and honey. Slightly stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of geranium, wood, and butter appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging notes of custard and vanilla and hints of pineapple. I also picked up on notes of cucumber, rose, plum, roasted chestnut, roasted hazelnut, pear, sugarcane, and honey. The previously noted peach hints gradually grew a little stronger on each finish, and I also thought I caught some hints of violet here and there. As the tea settled, the liquor turned grittier and more astringent, offering notes of minerals, wood, roasted almond, steamed milk, grass, and butter that were backed by hints of pear, plum, sugarcane, vanilla, and roasted chestnut.

This tea offered some interesting aromas and flavors, but it also flattened out relatively quickly and turned a bit grittier and more astringent than I had hoped it would. At its peak, it was a nice Dancong oolong, but I quickly grew restless with it and found myself ready to move on to something else. Overall, it was a pretty decent tea, but it struck me as being flawed. I have had better and more memorable teas of this type.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Butter, Chestnut, Citrus, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Geranium, Grass, Hazelnut, Honey, Milk, Nutmeg, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Rose, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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91

With this review, I am finally moving on to a tea I finished earlier this month. Looking over my rough draft of this review reminded me that the Rou Gui oolongs offered by Old Ways Tea always do it for me. I am not a huge Rou Gui fan, but I have been impressed by every Rou Gui from Old Ways Tea that I have tried. This tea did not even come close to breaking that trend. I found it to be yet another very enjoyable Rou Gui.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 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, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of charcoal, smoke, red wine, pine, black cherry, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, star anise, blackberry, and earth as well as some subtle grassy scents. The first infusion introduced suddenly amplified earth and cinnamon aromas as well as a pleasant ginger scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, pine, black cherry, roasted almond, smoke, and charcoal that were balanced by hints of red wine, earth, grass, pear, orange zest, and blackberry. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of minerals (almost like mineral water), orange zest, black raspberry, and pomegranate as well as even stronger earthy aromas and some somewhat amplified grassy scents. More earth and grass notes came out in the mouth alongside subtle impressions of roasted peanut, ginger, and star anise. I also picked up on slightly stronger blackberry notes, subtle notes of black raspberry, and impressions of minerals, pomegranate, peach, orange zest, rock sugar, and apricot. The previously noted hints of red wine morphed into a flavor akin to that of red table grapes, while some unexpected notes of roasted barley also appeared. Though it may sound odd, I even picked up on some fleeting notes of peat and dark chocolate in the aftertaste. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, roasted barley, roasted peanut, roasted almond, earth, and pine that were balanced by suddenly emerging popcorn notes and hints of charcoal, orange zest, grass, pomegranate, blackberry, red grape, cinnamon, and black cherry.

This was an extremely challenging yet enjoyable Wuyi Rou Gui oolong. Teas of this type have a tendency to be very earthy, nutty, spicy, and heavy with prominent charcoal and smoke aromas and flavors, but this one was often more delicate, and it was always changing. The flavors had a tendency to suddenly mutate into something else, often while shifting in intensity. Throughout my review session, I could not shake the feeling that this tea was challenging me to keep up with it, and quite frankly, I am not certain I was always up to the task. That should be obvious in the description of its aromas and flavors I provided in the above paragraph. I quickly reached a point where all I could do was settle in for the ride and try not to think too hard about what was going on with this tea. Ultimately, I guess I picked it apart the best I could, but this tea very well may have withstood my probing without giving up all of its secrets and charms. In the end, I loved what I was able to get out of this tea and relished the challenge it presented, but I feel that it may be a bit too much for those new to Wuyi Rou Gui. Definitely try some of Old Ways Tea’s other Rou Gui offerings before moving on to this tea or one of their other higher end Rou Gui.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Apricot, Blackberry, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Fruity, Ginger, Grapes, Grass, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Peat, Pine, Popcorn, Raspberry, Red Apple, Red Wine, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Sugar

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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97

As I started getting my notes together to write this review, it struck me that I could not even remotely recall when I finished what I had of this tea. It had to have been sometime in late July or around the start of the month. Though I can’t quite place my sipdown of this tea, I do recall being extremely impressed by it as well as a little shocked that I had not seen this tea receive more hype online. Everyone knows that I tend to be a huge Feng Qing tea fanboy, but honestly, this struck me as being one of the very best Feng Qing black teas I have ever tried.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased 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 buds emitted aromas of sweet potato, baked bread, malt, cream, cinnamon, cocoa, and sugarcane. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, marshmallow, banana, and pine. The first infusion brought out aromas of eucalyptus, black pepper, orange zest, and camphor. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of sweet potato, malt, cream, baked bread, sugarcane, eucalyptus, roasted almond, black pepper, and orange zest that were chased by hints of butter, cocoa, cinnamon, banana, pine, red apple, anise, and menthol. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of clove, anise, cedar, red apple, and lemon zest. Stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of butter, red apple, cinnamon, and pine appeared in the mouth alongside hints of marshmallow and roasted peanut and impressions of camphor. New notes of minerals, clove, honey, caramel, lemon zest, cedar, peach, apricot, plum, and roasted walnut were also detectable, and I even was able to pick up some hints of red grape here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized notes of minerals, baked bread, malt, cream, orange zest, lemon zest, sugarcane, and roasted almond that were balanced by belatedly emerging earthy notes and hints of black pepper, eucalyptus, camphor, cocoa, roasted peanut, menthol, and red grape.

This was a complex and challenging tea that was simultaneously lively and delightfully playful, but that being said, now that I think about it, I suppose I can see why this tea was not more heralded by the community. There was a whole lot going on with it, and it was the sort of tea you really had to work with to fully coax out its charms. Personally, I didn’t mind the extra effort and attention it required, but I can see why some people may not have enjoyed it as much as I did. For me, this tea was well worth the effort as its complexity, depth, and captivating quirks reminded me of why I fell in love with Feng Qing black teas in the first place.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Apricot, Baked Bread, banana, Black Pepper, Butter, Camphor, Cedar, Cinnamon, Clove, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Grapes, Lemon Zest, Malt, Marshmallow, Menthol, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pine, Plums, Red Apple, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Walnut

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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94

Here is another July sipdown, this one coming from the first half of the month. I thought this was the last of the 2017 Wuyi black teas I needed to finish, but today I discovered that I have one left that I totally forgot about buying. Anyway, this was a great Wuyi black tea, and that is really saying something considering that I do not generally go for Jin Jun Mei. I found this tea to be very unique and engaging with pleasant body and texture and tons of complexity.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 194 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 buds emitted aromas of honey, cinnamon, pine, and sugarcane. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of malt, grass, roasted almond, straw, green olive, and banana. The first infusion brought out aromas of black pepper and green bell pepper. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, oats, butter, straw, grass, malt, sugarcane, and roasted almond that were underscored by hints of honey, green bell pepper, banana, and green olive. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cream, butter, oats, clove, rose, eucalyptus, petrichor, caramel, and baked bread. Stronger notes of green olive, green bell pepper, and pine appeared in the mouth alongside slightly amplified impressions of banana and honey. Black pepper notes also appeared and so did mineral, moss, watermelon rind, clove, ginger, sweet potato, eucalyptus, caramel, baked bread, petrichor, pear, and orange zest notes. I also picked up some hints of rose and cinnamon. As the tea faded, the liquor offered notes of minerals, moss, pine, grass, malt, cream, oats, sugarcane, caramel, and green bell pepper that were balanced by hints of baked bread, butter, petrichor, roasted almond, ginger, sweet potato, watermelon rind, and black pepper.

This was an incredibly interesting twist on a Wuyi Jin Jun Mei. To this point in my tea drinking life, I do not recall ever trying another Wuyi black tea quite like this one. I was especially impressed by its complexity, and I should also note that the tea liquor was superbly balanced in the mouth. I will definitely be seeking out a few more teas like this one in the not too distant future.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Black Pepper, Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Clove, Cream, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Honey, Malt, Melon, Mineral, Moss, Oats, Olives, Orange Zest, Pear, petrichor, Pine, Rose, Straw, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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92

Folks, here is my final review of the day. This was another of my July sipdowns. Some of you may recall that I was extremely impressed by the 2016 version of this tea, and once I dug through my sample stash to find this offering, I was excited to try it. Well, I am happy to report that I found this offering to be even better than the one from 2016.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 13 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 roasted almond, rock sugar, cream, char, pine, raisin, and dark chocolate. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of orchid, blueberry, and raspberry as well as subtle scents of grass and baked bread. The first infusion introduced a slightly stronger baked bread scent as well as a subtle blackberry aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of orchid, cream, char, blueberry, baked bread, blackberry, roasted almond, pine, and rock sugar that were balanced by hints of grass, butter, raspberry, smoke, raisin, and black cherry. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of orange zest, roasted peanut, cedar, rose, black cherry, butter, banana, cinnamon, and roasted grain. Stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of raisin, grass, butter, and black cherry came out in the mouth alongside very subtle hints of dark chocolate and slightly amplified raspberry notes. Impressions of cedar, roasted peanut, minerals, plum, rose, orange zest, and pomegranate also appeared alongside subtle roasted grain, cinnamon, banana, and nutmeg notes. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, cream, grass, butter, roasted almond, roasted peanut, roasted grain, and orange zest that were underscored by hints of pine, char, rock sugar, raisin, black cherry, blueberry, orchid, and pomegranate. There were also some hints of popcorn that came out late.

This was a tremendously enjoyable Qi Lan that yielded a liquor with a smooth mouthfeel and incredible depth and complexity on the nose and in the mouth. Fans of the cultivar should find a lot to enjoy in this tea. Considering that Old Ways Tea is batting 1.000 with their roasted Qi Lan oolongs, I cannot wait for the 2018 and 2019 versions.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Cedar, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Grain, Grass, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pine, Plums, Popcorn, Raisins, Raspberry, Roasted, Rose, Smoke, Sugar

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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90

This was another of my July sipdowns. I’ve been on a quest the last couple of years to develop a better understanding of Rou Gui. It is apparently a super popular oolong overseas, but I have had great difficulty seeing the appeal. To me, it often seems very woody and heavy, though I have managed to try several Rou Gui that have shown tremendous depth and character. This was one of them. I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, rock sugar, mushroom, cream, vanilla, pomegranate, and blueberry. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted almond, black cherry, earth, and pine. The first infusion introduced aromas of smoke, char, and plum. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, rock sugar, cream, vanilla, roasted almond, and blueberry that were chased by hints of pine, smoke, char, earth, black cherry, nutmeg, and pomegranate. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of red apple, red wine, blackberry, and tobacco as well as stronger smoke and char scents. Stronger and more immediately noticeable smoke, char, earth, pomegranate, and black cherry notes appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of mushroom, roasted almond, and plum. I also found notes of blackberry, red wine, minerals, and tobacco as well as hints of grass, cooked spinach, cocoa, red apple, and orange zest. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, pine, smoke, black cherry, earth, cinnamon, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of grass, red apple, cocoa, pomegranate, tobacco, red wine, mushroom, and blackberry. There were even a few hints of roasted barley that emerged on the last two or three infusions.

This was a very nice Rou Gui. It was not quite as nutty or as woody as I was expecting, but it displayed tremendously enjoyable spice and fruit notes. It’s rather hard to get me to give an overwhelmingly positive review to a Rou Gui, but this one was delightful. Old Ways Tea continues to impress me with their offerings.

Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Blueberry, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Grass, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Pine, Plums, Red Apple, Red Wine, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Spinach, Sugar, Tobacco, Vanilla

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 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.

Location

KY

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