855 Tasting Notes

87

This review is one of many that I have been sitting on for several months. I know I finished what I had of this tea at some point during the first half of August. It seems crazy to me that I’m this far behind. Heck, I have one review from November 2018 that I still need to post, a few random things from July and September, and a whole chunk of reviews from August and October, not to mention an incrementally growing number of unpublished reviews for the current month. I have no clue if/when I will get everything posted here. At this rate, it will be sometime in either December or January even with my tea consumption greatly decreasing. Anyway, I recall this being a tea I was a little reticent about trying, as I loved the 2017 version of this tea and was concerned about this tea being described as less grassy. Ultimately, I found it to be less grassy and more fruity and floral, but I think being fruity and floral instead of overtly grassy worked for it. Now that I think about it, though, I don’t recall the 2017 tea being all that grassy. I’m pretty sure I also found it to be more fruity and floral, so I guess I was making much ado about nothing.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased 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 tea leaves produced aromas of baked bread, malt, straw, grass, honey, and cream. After the rinse, new aromas of roasted peanut and butter made themselves known alongside a subtle sweet potato scent. The first infusion introduced aromas of vanilla, roasted almond, and violet. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of baked bread, malt, grass, straw, cream, honey, roasted peanut, and roasted almond that were balanced by hints of butter, vanilla, violet, and pear. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of minerals, cocoa, candied orange, rose, pear, kumquat, red apple, and brown sugar. Sweet potato notes appeared in the mouth alongside stronger and more immediately evident impressions of vanilla, butter, and pear. The violet presence was also slightly amplified. Notes of cocoa, brown sugar, red apple, minerals, rose, candied orange, plum, peach, and kumquat appeared, and I even picked up a slight menthol presence in the aftertaste. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, candied orange, cream, butter, honey, malt, and sweet potato notes that were underscored by pleasant grass, kumquat, brown sugar, cocoa, rose, and violet hints.

Compared to the 2017 offering, this was a much sweeter tea, though it also displayed the savory characteristics of that tea. Having tried both, I can say that the 2017 tea struck me as being more balanced, more substantial, and more textured, while this one was lighter, sweeter, quirkier, and livelier. I think I had more fun drinking this tea than its older counterpart. Honestly, I found both teas to be very enjoyable. The 2017 offering felt more refined and a little more complete to me, but this tea was an absolute blast to drink and pick apart.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Candy, Citrus, Cocoa, Cream, Grass, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Plums, Red Apple, Rose, Straw, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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84

God, it’s been forever! It seems that every time I try to get myself into some sort of routine when it comes to posting tea reviews, something always happens that causes me to fall even further behind. In this case, it has been a combination of an oppressive work schedule, health issues, and a general sour mood that has left me not exactly feeling like writing in my extremely limited spare time. I’m going to start playing catch-up again with this review, or so I hope. This was my first sipdown of the month and a tea I had been meaning to get to long before I actually managed to motivate myself to try it. My limited experience with winter Shui Xian and previous positive experiences with various Shui Xian offered by Old Ways Tea told me that this would be a quality offering, and it was. It ended up being neither my favorite winter Shui Xian nor one of my favorite offerings from Old Ways Tea, but it was still a very nice 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 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 emitted aromas of baked bread, cinnamon, raisin, roasted almond, honey, blackberry, charcoal, and pine. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of roasted peanut, smoke, earth, tar, and cannabis. The first infusion brought out a little rock sugar and orange zest on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of mushroom, cream, baked bread, roasted almond, roasted peanut, earth, tar, charcoal, and pine that were chased by hints of honey, cinnamon, blackberry, butter, smoke, and grass. The following infusions coaxed out aromas of rock sugar, malt, roasted walnut, grass, mushroom, cranberry, and pear alongside subtler scents of vanilla and red apple. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of blackberry, butter, cinnamon, smoke, and grass appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, black cherry, roasted walnut, orange zest, pear, red apple, pomegranate, cranberry, malt, and caramel notes. I also picked up some belatedly emerging cannabis hints and subtle notes of raisin, rock sugar, and vanilla. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized mineral, roasted almond, roasted peanut, roasted walnut, baked bread, caramel, butter, grass, blackberry, charcoal, and cinnamon notes that were underscored by hints of rock sugar, earth, mushroom, tar, smoke, vanilla, orange zest, black cherry, and pear.

This was a very complex and interesting tea. It was a little surprising to me that the characteristics of the roast (charcoal, pine, tar, smoke, etc.) came out so prominently and so strongly. Winter Shui Xian is generally not as heavily roasted as other Wuyi Shui Xian, and either this one was more heavily roasted than the average winter Shui Xian, or its roast somehow managed to retain a good deal of its strength and liveliness in storage. I have no clue which is the case. Anyway, this was a very good and very enjoyable Shui Xian, though it was a bit harsher and heavier than I have come to expect winter Shui Xian to be. I’m willing to bet that a few more months in storage would have mellowed it out a bit more.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Butter, Cannabis, Caramel, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cranberry, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Raisins, Red Apple, Roasted, Smoke, Sugar, Tar, Vanilla, Walnut

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
tea-sipper

Hope you feel better.

eastkyteaguy

Thanks. I’m working on it.

mrmopar

Indeed, prayers your way.

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80

This was another of my sipdowns from last week. I remember finishing what I had of this tea the day after I finished the sample pouch of Old Ways Tea’s 2017 Huang Guan Yin-Electric Roast. Their Premium Old Tree Black Teas are usually great offerings. I recall the 2016 offering being fantastic and the 2017 offering being very good, but not quite as good as the 2016. This tea marked yet another step down in terms of perceived quality. It was still a more or less very good offering, but it did not have the depth that made the other two teas so enjoyable.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a very quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 194 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 malt, pine, roasted almond, cinnamon, baked bread, straw, honey, and nutmeg. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut and green wood. The first infusion brought out a subtle smoky scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, baked bread, roasted peanut, roasted almond, and butter that were chased by hints of green wood, pine, nutmeg, cinnamon, and honey. The following infusions gradually brought out aromas of minerals, orange zest, leather, butter, lemon zest, and grass as well as stronger smoke aromas. Notes of smoke and straw came out in the mouth with a slightly amplified cinnamon presence as well as notes of minerals, leather, lemon zest, orange zest, grass, and cream. I also detected hints of brown sugar, raisin, red apple, and pear. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, green wood, orange zest, butter, roasted peanut, and lemon zest that were underscored by fleeting hints of grass, straw, roasted almond, pine, leather, cream, and smoke.

This tea shared many characteristics with its counterparts from the previous two years, but in my opinion, it lacked some of the quirks that made those teas so appealing. It also lacked the smooth, cooling finish that was especially enjoyable and pronounced in the 2016 tea. Overall, it did not come off as being as deep or as captivating as the previous offerings. Still, it was a mostly very enjoyable black tea and just suffered in comparison to those older teas. I don’t regret trying it at all, though I would by lying if I were to state that I am not hoping that Old Ways Tea’s 2019 Old Tree Black Tea will represent something of a step back up in terms of quality.

Flavors: Almond, Almond, Baked Bread, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Brown Sugar, Butter, Butter, Cinnamon, Cinnamon, Cream, Cream, Grass, Grass, Green Wood, Green Wood, Honey, Honey, Leather, Leather, Lemon Zest, Lemon Zest, Malt, Malt, Mineral, Mineral, Nutmeg, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orange Zest, Peanut, Peanut, Pear, Pear, Pine, Pine, Raisins, Raisins, Red Apple, Red Apple, Smoke, Smoke, Straw, Straw

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
derk

The 2016 was stellar. Wow.

Jade

This reminds me…I have to post my own review. I never tasted the previous versions so I can’t compare, but I did enjoy this particular tea.

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84

Okay, I finally seem to have more regular access to Steepster. For the better part of two weeks, I was either so busy that I had no time to contribute anything or could not log into my account due to constant 503 errors. Hopefully, things will change from this point forward. A lot has gone on since I posted my last set of reviews. Most significantly, I interviewed for a job at the local community college. I hadn’t been consistently looking for a new job for the better part of a year, and the few applications I submitted in that time did not net me any interviews. As a matter of fact, I had not been to a job interview since September 2018 prior to this last one. Unlike that earlier interview, I didn’t walk away from this last interview with a terrible feeling, so I guess that’s a good sign. At this point, I’m not sure I expect to be offered this job, though I hope I do receive the offer. Anyway, I did not feel like digging through notes from the summer, so I decided to take the opportunity to review a tea I polished off more recently. I only had a sample pouch of this tea to work with, and I finished it in a single day back around the start of last week. I was not expecting much out of it due to my strong preference for charcoal roasted Wuyi oolongs, but honestly, this was a very nice tea. It didn’t rival Old Ways Tea’s regular 2017 Huang Guan Yin, but for what it was, it was very good.

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 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 leaves emitted aromas of cinnamon, roasted almond, nutmeg, cream, strawberry, and raspberry. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of butter, orange zest, blackberry, and blueberry. The first infusion saw the strawberry aroma increase in strength while new aromas of vanilla and red grape appeared alongside subtle smoky scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, roasted almond, orange zest, butter, blueberry, and blackberry that were backed by hints of cinnamon, nutmeg, grass, smoke, black cherry, and raspberry. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of roasted peanut, grass, roasted grain, roasted beechnut, malt, and peach as well as subtler scents of grape leaf and green olive. Stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of grass, smoke, black cherry, and raspberry appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, roasted grain, roasted peanut, roasted beechnut, peach, and plum. Impressions of red grape and vanilla also emerged, and some hints of grape leaf, green olive, strawberry, and malt could also be detected. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized mineral, cream, butter, grass, roasted peanut, and roasted grain notes that were accompanied by an amplified malt presence and hints of green olive, smoke, grape leaf, roasted almond, roasted beechnut, vanilla, and orange zest.

Electric roasts generally do not allow the the full range of a tea’s quirks and complexities to shine, but this one was not overpowering and seemed to have been very skillfully applied, so that was not the case here. In truth, I’m used to cheap, rough electric roasted oolongs that kind of smell and taste like ashes or burnt toast, so my expectations were low going into the drinking session detailed in the previous paragraph. I was most certainly not expecting a very delicate, complex, playful tea with tons of aroma and flavor components. Still, this tea did start to fade sooner than I hoped it would, and having tried Old Ways Tea’s charcoal roasted 2017 Huang Guan Yin several months prior to this tea, I could tell that this was a lower quality offering. It just did not quite have the depth or balance of that tea. All in all, I still consider this a very good offering. If you’re the sort of person who thinks of electric roasted Wuyi oolongs as low quality teas with an overpowering ashy or smoky presence, this tea would certainly surprise you.

Flavors: Almond, Almond, Blackberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Blueberry, Butter, Butter, Cherry, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cinnamon, Cream, Cream, Grain, Grain, Grapes, Grapes, Grass, Grass, Malt, Malt, Mineral, Mineral, Nutmeg, Nutmeg, Nutty, Nutty, Olives, Olives, Orange Zest, Orange Zest, Peach, Peach, Peanut, Peanut, Plums, Plums, Raspberry, Raspberry, Roasted, Roasted, Smoke, Smoke, Strawberry, Strawberry, Vanilla, Vanilla, Vegetal, Vegetal

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Martin Bednář

I wish you good luck with a job :)

eastkyteaguy

Martin, thank you. I need all the luck I can get on the job front.

mrmopar

Good luck on the job front!

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92

I had to dig through my review notebook for this one. I knew I had a few reviews from July that I still needed to post, and this was one of them. I think I finished what I had of this tea around the end of the month, but I could be wrong as it’s been a while. I do know that I found this tea to be on par with Old Ways Tea’s 2016 Huang Guan Yin, perhaps just a little bit better.

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 followed 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 cream, blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry that were accompanied by subtle scents of cinnamon and plum. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, roasted almond, rose, and roasted grain as well as a subtle scent of smoke. The first infusion introduced a slight earthiness to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, roasted peanut, and roasted grain that were balanced by hints of cinnamon, mushroom, smoke, earth, roasted almond, and rose. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of dark wood, grass, charcoal, and roasted beechnut as well as subtler scents of roasted hazelnut, malt, and strawberry. Notes of black cherry, minerals, grass, charcoal, dark wood, plum, roasted beechnut, roasted hazelnut, and brown sugar appeared in the mouth along with slightly stronger rose and roasted almond notes and hints of green olive, malt, tar, and strawberry. As the tea faded, the liquor took on stronger malty and earthy characteristics while also emphasizing notes of minerals, cream, roasted peanut, grass, and roasted grain that were balanced by hints of green olive, roasted hazelnut, roasted almond, blueberry, and brown sugar.

This was such an interesting and complex tea. Compared to the 2016 offering, this tea struck me as being both fruitier and nuttier. It also offered some unexpected twists and turns over the course of my gongfu session. It was very satisfying and struck me as a truly excellent offering, but I could also see it not being for everyone.

Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Wood, Earth, Grain, Grass, Hazelnut, Malt, Mineral, Mushrooms, Nutty, Olives, Peanut, Plums, Raspberry, Roasted, Rose, Smoke, Strawberry

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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95

This was one of my sipdowns from September. I recall finishing what I had of this tea right before I started on What-Cha’s China Fujian Fragrant Rou Gui Oolong Tea. I have already reviewed the latter tea, and like it, this tea was also excellent. To be honest, it was actually just a little bit better than its sister offering.

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 presented aromas of charcoal, pomegranate, raisin, blackberry, pine, and blueberry. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted almond, baked bread, smoke, rock sugar, earth, cannabis, and mushroom. The first infusion introduced aromas of rose and grass as well as a subtle vanilla scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of roasted almond, butter, cream, vanilla, rose, blueberry, rock sugar, earth, pine, grass, baked bread, and pomegranate that were backed by hints of raisin, cannabis, mushroom, red raspberry, blackberry, red apple, and charcoal. I even picked up a barely perceptible hint of smoke in the aftertaste. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of cream, red raspberry, red apple, pear, spinach, cinnamon, black cherry, strawberry, and roasted peanut. Stronger and more immediately assertive notes of blackberry, mushroom, and red apple came out in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, pear, spinach, orange zest, roasted peanut, strawberry, and popcorn and hints of cinnamon and black cherry. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, roasted almond, grass, pine, baked bread, earth, charcoal, mushroom, and orange zest that were balanced by hints of rock sugar, roasted peanut, butter, red raspberry, blueberry, red apple, strawberry, spinach, popcorn, and black cherry.

This was a tremendously aromatic and flavorful tea, but it was also one that was consistently approachable and drinkable despite its considerable complexity. Fans of Wuyi Shui Xian would likely find a ton to love about this offering, though I think those who are put off by the more traditional, heavily roasted spring teas would also be pleased with it. It truly had something for everyone and served as proof that some of the teas produced in Wuyishan’s winter harvests have a tremendous amount to offer more open-minded tea drinkers.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Cannabis, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Grass, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Popcorn, Raisins, Raspberry, Red Apple, Roasted, Rose, Smoke, Spinach, Sugar, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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61

This was another of my recent sipdowns. It was also a tea that was nothing like I expected it to be. Many of the other Yunnan wild arbor assamicas I have tried have been assertive, challenging teas with tremendous presence both on the nose and in the mouth, but this tea was much subtler and smoother. It offered a very mellow drinking experience.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased 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 tea leaves presented aromas of honey, cocoa, cedar, malt, raisin, butter, and tobacco. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of prune, hay, smoke, cinnamon, and geranium. The first infusion introduced aromas of orange zest and eucalyptus. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, cream, raisin, cinnamon, cedar, prune, and geranium that were balanced by hints of eucalyptus, butter, roasted almond, smoke, minerals, orange zest, and tobacco. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of camphor, roasted almond, caraway, and lemon zest. Stronger and more immediately present notes of butter, minerals, orange zest, and roasted almond appeared in the mouth alongside notes of cream, camphor, oats, grass, hay, green bell pepper, black pepper, lemon zest, honey, and caraway. I also noted subtle hints of cocoa and steamed milk. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to offer notes of minerals, malt, lemon zest, geranium, orange zest, and hay that were complimented by hints of tobacco, raisin, black pepper, cinnamon, butter, and honey.

This was an odd tea for me. I greatly enjoyed the aromas and flavors it offered, but I found that it was a bit lacking in body and texture as the mouthfeel of the tea liquor was rather thin and did not change much over the course of my drinking session. The aromas and flavors this tea offered also came off as rather muted compared to the other Yunnan wild arbor black teas I have tried. People who are into very smooth, mellow black teas would probably enjoy this one a great deal, but people who enjoy heavier, more robust teas would probably be somewhat disappointed. Your enjoyment of this tea will also clearly depend on how much you enjoy Yi Wu teas in general. Personally, I have never really gravitated towards Yi Wu stuff, so this tea was probably not going to be for someone like me anyway.

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Camphor, Cedar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Dried Fruit, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Milk, Mineral, Orange Zest, Raisins, Smoke, Tobacco

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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50

This was my most recent sipdown and a tea I had been looking forward to since trying Yunnan Sourcing’s Royal Chrysanthemum Flower and Big Snow Mountain Black Tea Dragon Ball (still need to post a review for that one). Unfortunately, I did not enjoy it nearly as much as the other tea since I found the snow chrysanthemum to frequently overpower the tea base. Yunnan Sourcing’s Big Snow Mountain of Mengku Black Tea is not the most powerful or assertive Yunnan black tea, and I did not think it had room to shine when paired with these snow chrysanthemum flowers.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped the entire dragon ball in 160 ml of 194 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 dragon ball produced aromas of chrysanthemum, dill, mandarin orange, and malt. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of cream, butter, cinnamon, and black pepper as well as amplified scents of chrysanthemum and malt. The first infusion introduced subtle aromas of oats and red grape. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, chrysanthemum, butter, oats, and dill that were chased by hints of mandarin orange, roasted almond, baked bread, red grape, and sweet potato. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of baked bread, camphor, ginger, nutmeg, caramel, and eucalyptus alongside subtle scents of sweet potato. I picked up a little more baked bread, red grape, sweet potato, and roasted almond in the mouth as well as notes of minerals, camphor, eucalyptus, ginger, cocoa, nutmeg, caramel, and red apple. I also noted belatedly appearing cinnamon, malt, and black pepper impressions and hints of earth and plum. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to offer chrysanthemum, mandarin orange, dill, black pepper, cinnamon, and red apple notes that were supported by hints of roasted almond, baked bread, earth, red grape, and sweet potato.

This struck me as being an okay chrysanthemum black tea. It was nothing special. There wasn’t a lot of integration of snow chrysanthemum and black tea aromas and flavors. The notes one would generally get from snow chrysanthemum flowers dominated the proceedings here while the contributions from the tea base were always playing second fiddle. I think a more assertive, robust black tea would have worked better for a blend of this type.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Dill, Earth, Eucalyptus, Floral, Ginger, Grapes, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Oats, Orange, Plums, Red Apple, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
8 g 5 OZ / 160 ML
Bluegreen

Chrysanthemum teas are so tricky and prone to going overboard…

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95

Steepster has unfortunately now eaten my review of this tea twice, so let’s see if the third time is the charm. I generally don’t go for pu-erh or blended teas, so one would expect this tea to not do much for me, but one would be wrong. This was an absolutely fantastic pu-erh blend.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose pu-erh, cacao nib, and vanilla bean piece blend in 4 ounces of 212 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 20 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, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea blend emitted aromas of earth, mushroom, cocoa, vanilla, and marshmallow. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of malt, wood, and wheat toast. The first infusion introduced the aroma of old paper and a subtle scent of smoke. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of earth, cream, butter, malt, mushroom, marshmallow, wood, wheat toast, cocoa, and vanilla that were complimented by subtle notes of cinnamon, black pepper, camphor, smoke, and old paper. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cream, butter, molasses, and caramel. Notes of minerals and dried tobacco appeared in the mouth alongside subtle hints of molasses and a brown sugar note that quickly transformed into more of a caramel presence. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, cream, wood, vanilla, cocoa, and caramel notes that were complimented by hints of marshmallow, camphor, wheat toast, butter, and mushroom.

At this point, all I can do is re-emphasize that I thought this was a fantastic blend. Nothing was out of place. Everything worked together. It was just beautiful. Brendan consistently does an incredible job with his tea blends, and this one was another winner. Anyone looking to craft a quality pu-erh blend should check out this tea and some of Whispering Pines’ similar offerings.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Mushrooms, Paper, Smoke, Toast, Tobacco, Vanilla, Wheat, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
ashmanra

Nice! I had a black/puerh breakfast blend once that was really good, i will keep this one in mind when I take myself off of tea buying restriction.

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70

With this review, I am moving on from something strange to something a little more traditional. This black tea was produced from the same plants that also produced the material for the spring 2017 Yi Mei Ren black tea, which I loved, but this tea was produced later and from older, larger leaves. I found it to be a timid, subtle tea that retained some of the aromatics and appealing flavor components of the Yi Mei Ren, but with a stuffier, more heavily textured feel that did not quite do it for me on any sort of consistent basis.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves 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 tea leaves produced aromas of chocolate, malt, baked bread, grass, orchid, and minerals. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of plum, red grape, butter, and roasted almond. The first infusion introduced even more minerality to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented watery notes of malt, butter, grass, roasted almond, and baked bread that were chased by hints of plum, orchid, red grape, and chocolate. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of orange zest, caramel, violet, and straw. Slightly amplified and somewhat more immediate chocolate impressions appeared in the mouth alongside clear orchid and mineral notes and hints of date, nutmeg, and sugarcane. I also detected notes of violet, orange zest, caramel, earth, cream, oats, and straw. As the tea faded, the liquor started emphasizing lingering mineral, malt, earth, roasted almond, baked bread, and straw notes that were balanced by hints of cream, butter, orchid, violet, red grape, and orange zest.

This was not a terrible tea, but it was not for me. I prefer my black teas to be robustly aromatic and flavorful, and this tea was very subtle, clean, and timid, consistently emphasizing body and texture over any flavor component it had to offer. Drinkers who approach tea based more on feel would probably be satisfied with it, but for people like me who appreciate aroma and flavor more than anything else, this tea would probably come off as boring. I’m glad I took the opportunity to try it, but I also recall being very happy to move on to something else after I finished what I had of it. This one would certainly not be for everyone.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Caramel, Chocolate, Cream, Dates, Earth, Grapes, Grass, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Oats, Orange Zest, Orchid, Plums, Straw, Sugarcane, Violet

Preparation
6 min, 15 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Bio

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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