943 Tasting Notes

95

This was my second sipdown of the month. Starting off a review with such a statement reminds me that I really need to get in the habit of publishing my reviews in order. Sadly, I doubt that will ever happen. Anyway, this was yet another awesome Yunnan black tea from Yunnan Sourcing.

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 tea buds emitted aromas of baked bread, earth, malt, sugarcane, honey, and sweet potato. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and caramelized banana. The first infusion produced a stronger sugarcane scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of sugarcane, baked bread, cocoa, cream, malt, and sweet potato that were chased by hints of roasted peanut, pine, and caramelized banana. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of pine, cherry, cocoa, cream, butter, red grape, apple, and minerals. Stronger and more immediate roasted peanut, caramelized banana, and pine notes appeared in the mouth alongside roasted almond and honey notes and hints of earth. New notes of butter, minerals, and cherry also appeared along with hints of apple, red grape, pineapple, and papaya. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, malt, roasted almond, sweet potato, and cream notes that were backed by hints of pine, sugarcane, butter, cocoa, and roasted peanut.

Compared to quite a few other Yunnan black teas currently on the market, this tea was neither all that deep nor tremendously complex, but it did produce a liquor that offered a lovely and harmonious mix of aromas and flavors as well as wonderful texture in the mouth. It was a tremendously drinkable and likable tea overall, one that would likely be perfect as a daily drinker or as an introductory Yunnan black tea. Since it can be difficult to find a tea that is likely capable of satisfying both novices and connoisseurs, I could not help scoring this one so highly.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, banana, Butter, Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Grapes, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Peanut, Pine, Pineapple, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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93

This was my most recent sipdown. Of the Yunnan black teas I have consumed over the course of the last two months, this was easily one of the most impressive. I especially appreciated this tea’s depth and complexity. It had so much to offer. The degree of complexity it displayed was sometimes capable of boggling the mind.

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 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 revealed aromas of raisin, tobacco, honey, malt, cream, cedar, pine, and autumn leaves. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of sugarcane, butter, baked bread, and roasted almond. The first infusion revealed aromas of roasted peanut and sweet potato as well as subtler scents of black pepper, camphor, and anise. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, cream, raisin, sweet potato, butter, pine, baked bread, sugarcane, and tobacco that were chased by hints of roasted almond, honey, cedar, orange zest, and geranium. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of chocolate, nutmeg, orange zest, earth, mushroom, caramel, fig, date, geranium, cinnamon, vanilla, and red grape. Notes of autumn leaves and roasted peanut came out in the mouth alongside stronger and more immediate impressions of cedar, orange zest, honey, and geranium and very subtle hints of anise, black pepper, and camphor. I also detected notes of roasted walnut, minerals, nutmeg, chocolate, tomato, caramel, plum, fig, date, vanilla, leather, cinnamon, red grape, earth, and mushroom that were accompanied by some subtle smoky hints. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, earth, mushroom, raisin, malt, fig, roasted almond, cream, and baked bread that were balanced by hints of camphor, tobacco, leather, orange zest, butter, vanilla, pine, sweet potato, chocolate, red grape, and plum.

There was a ton going on in this tea. Even though I do not drink a ton of pu-erh, I have had a few Mengku area teas, so I am at least somewhat familiar with the characteristics imparted by that terroir, and I was able to get a ton of those characteristics out of this tea. To be clear, I associate Mengku teas with fruity, zesty, earthy, woody, and floral characteristics, and I found tons of them in this tea. I would be willing to bet that the material used to produce this black tea would have made a great pu-erh, but since I am not much of a pu-erh guy, I am glad that did not happen. The only real issues I had with this tea were that I thought it faded a little sooner than it should have and I found the mouthfeel of the tea liquor to be just slightly too thin in places. The liquor could also sometimes be a bit pungent for my liking. Otherwise, this was a near perfect Yunnan black tea.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Dates, Earth, Fig, Geranium, Grapes, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Mushrooms, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Plums, Raisins, Smoke, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Vanilla, Walnut

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
HaChaChaCha

“There was a ton going on in this tea.” — boy howdy, I’d say so. That’s an amazing amount of flavors/aromas.

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94

This was my most recent sipdown as I finished what I had of this tea a couple days ago. At this point, it should perhaps come as no surprise to any of my readers that I found this to be an impressive offering. Seriously, What-Cha does a great job of sourcing Nepalese teas. I have gotten to the point where I will just blindly purchase any Nepalese tea Alistair decides to stock.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. For the session detailed in this review, I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material offered up aromas of malt, straw, grass, chili leaf, and wood. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of Muscatel, lemon zest, lime zest, green bell pepper, and hay. After the infusion, I found that the liquor offered aromas of apricot, roasted almond, butter, rose, and orange blossom. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of apricot, straw, malt, cream, butter, chili leaf, grass, straw, hay, dandelion, marigold, orange blossom, white peach, Muscatel, toast, lemon zest, lime zest, roasted almond, green bell pepper, and wood that were underscored by hints of wintergreen, spearmint, and rose before a smooth, slightly citrusy, malty, and vegetal fade.

This was a very high quality tea, one that yielded a highly aromatic, tremendously satisfying, and impressively textured tea liquor. Some of the Nepalese teas I have been trying lately have been a bit thinner and slicker in the mouth, but this one was smooth, silky, and luscious with a little more heft than I have been getting out of many recent Nepalese and Darjeeling teas. I would have liked to see a little more integration and balance with regard to some of this tea’s many aroma and flavor components, but overall, I found this to be an incredibly enjoyable offering. In terms of aroma and flavor, this tea was very comparable to some of the better first flush Darjeeling black teas out there, but honestly, I think it may have been just a tad better than a lot of the ones I have tried. Here’s hoping What-Cha continues to source teas from Guranse. I’d like to try a few more of their offerings.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Butter, Cream, Dandelion, Floral, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Herbaceous, Lemon Zest, Lime, Malt, Muscatel, Orange Blossom, Peach, Rose, Spearmint, Straw, Toast, Vegetal, Wood

Preparation
3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
What-Cha

Really glad you enjoyed it, I’ll be skipping the First Flush Guranse productions this year due to the volume of last year’s Floral I still have but will definitely look to pick up one of this year’s second flush productions.

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94

Alright, I have been lazy long enough. It’s time to get some more reviews out of the way in order to keep the number of backlogged reviews from growing any larger. This was one of my sipdowns from the second half of April. I know I tend to display a considerable fondness for the teas produced by Jun Chiyabari, so it should perhaps come as no surprise that I thought this tea was great. I was a little shocked that it did not get a warmer reception on Steepster.

I prepared this tea in the Western style, but I modified my usual brewing approach somewhat for this tea. I normally do not rinse teas from Nepal, Assam, and Darjeeling, but I opted to do so here simply because I did not get much out of the dry leaf material. I only rinsed the leaf material for 5 seconds, but the rinse revealed a tremendous number of new aromas. After the rinse, I steeped my 3 grams of leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of chocolate and malt. After the rinse, I detected aromas of orange zest, black cherry, violet, baked bread, plum, and Muscatel. The 5 minute infusion introduced aromas of nutmeg, cream, clove, licorice, and anise. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, baked bread, malt, black cherry, violet, plum, Muscatel, orange zest, grass, straw, nutmeg, licorice, anise, clove, and chocolate that were backed by hints of smoke, roasted almond, roasted walnut, blackberry, blueberry, and dried cranberry. Pleasant spice and tart fruit impressions lingered in the mouth after the swallow and were accompanied by somewhat subtler malty, smoky, nutty, and chocolaty notes.

In my opinion, this was a more or less fantastic Nepalese black tea. Jun Chiyabari rarely if ever lets me down, and they certainly did not manage to do so with this offering. My only real quibble with this tea was that I found the body of the tea liquor to be a bit thin. That was seriously the only thing I could find to knock. At this point, I will also add that I found this tea to be very forgiving and flexible in the brewing process. It did not display a tendency to get bitter or astringent quickly, and I also found that this tea was capable of producing multiple satisfying infusions when brewed in the Western style as long as one started with a slightly shorter initial steep than I did during the bulk of my time with it. Overall, this was an impressive tea. I do not mind giving it a higher numerical score than previous reviewers because I feel that it earned that privilege.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Cherry, Chocolate, Clove, Cranberry, Cream, Grass, Licorice, Malt, Muscatel, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Plums, Smoke, Straw, Violet, Walnut

Preparation
3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Fjellrev

I always appreciate reading your reviews because they’re so thorough and you clearly take a lot of time to prepare them! So don’t beat yourself up about being too “lazy” because, I mean, look at me haha.

Daylon R Thomas

I’m still kicking myself in the pants for not getting more of this one. It was one of my favorites.

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90

This was my final sipdown in April. At this point, I am down to only two more pouches of Jin Jun Mei. I plan on getting to both before the end of the current month. I was not initially sure what to expect of this one, but I had high hopes considering that I liked the previous Yunnan Sourcing Jin Jun Mei that I tried. Fortunately, this tea was not a disappointment. I actually found it to be one of the best Jin Jun Mei that I have tried.

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 subsequent 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, pine, malt, smoke, brown sugar, and ginger. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, sweet potato, cedar, juniper, and baked bread. The first infusion introduced aromas of black pepper and roasted almond. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, earth, butter, cooked green beans, brown sugar, and cream that were chased by hints of chocolate, black pepper, roasted peanut, baked bread, smoke, and pine. The subsequent infusions introduced an earthy aroma as well as subtle scents of minerals, grass, cream, vanilla, cooked green beans, and cinnamon. Ginger and sweet potato notes appeared in the mouth alongside stronger and more immediate impressions of chocolate, baked bread, smoke, and roasted peanut and very subtle notes of roasted almond, cedar, and juniper. I also detected notes of grass, vanilla, honey, and minerals as well as occasional hints of caramel and cinnamon. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, earth, malt, cream, butter, roasted peanut, cooked green beans, and grass that gave way to vanilla, brown sugar, chocolate, pine, roasted almond, sweet potato, and baked bread hints.

I really appreciated the fact that this tea’s flavor profile did not follow its bouquet. It had my attention from the very start as the aromas it gave off did not quickly lead to identical flavors in the mouth. I also liked that it went from being a very heavy, complex tea on the nose to one that primarily emphasized flavor and texture. Brewing and drinking this tea were not boring, predictable processes. It kept me on my toes throughout my review session. By the time I got around to trying this tea, I was at a point in my Jin Jun Mei journey where I needed a tea that was lively and challenging. This was that tea for me. I imagine that people who are looking for a quality Jin Jun Mei that is endearingly quirky and complex as well as accessible and not overly challenging would be pleased with this one.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Ginger, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Peanut, Pine, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
derk

I want to say something about being on your ‘tea toes’ but I have nothing. The tea sounds great!

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71

This was another April sipdown of mine. I think I finished this one around the start of the third week of the month. I only had a couple of sample pouches to play around with, so I did not get a chance to spend an extended period of time familiarizing myself with this tea, but in the time I spent with it, I found it to be a decent though not exceptionally interesting Ali Shan oolong.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 7 grams of rolled tea leaves in 5 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cream, custard, vanilla, sugarcane, gardenia, and grass. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of butter, spinach, honeysuckle, and orange blossom. The first infusion introduced aromas of apricot and cucumber. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, butter, sugarcane, grass, spinach, and cucumber that were chased by pear, green apple, apricot, orange blossom, and vanilla hints. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of umami, green apple, lettuce, and honeydew. Stronger and more readily noticeable impressions of pear, green apple, and vanilla came out in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging notes of custard and hints of gardenia and honeysuckle. I also picked up on notes of minerals, umami, cantaloupe, honeydew, white peach, white grape, coriander, lettuce, seaweed, and orange zest. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, coriander, umami, green apple, pear, grass, butter, and spinach that were backed by hints of seaweed, cucumber, apricot, white grape, orange zest, and lettuce.

This was a fairly standard Ali Shan oolong. I found that it faded quickly, but for the most part, there was nothing terribly wrong with it. Unfortunately, I find Ali Shan to be one of the more overhyped and boring terroirs of Taiwan, and since this tea did not differentiate itself from the majority of the other Ali Shan oolongs I have tried, I very quickly reached a point where I was ready to move on from it. To be clear, this tea was not bad. As a matter of fact, I could see it maybe making a respectable introductory Ali Shan oolong for those who are curious about what Ali Shan teas have to offer. I just found it to be a bit on the bland side.

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Cantaloupe, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Honeydew, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Peach, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, White Grapes

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 7 g 5 OZ / 147 ML
LuckyMe

This has been my experience as well with most Teavivre Taiwanese oolongs. They’re overall pretty lackluster. Teavivre does green and black tea well, but oolongs are not their specialty

eastkyteaguy

LuckyMe, I would agree with that assertion. Their Taiwanese oolongs are usually pretty boring. Heck, aside from their Tieguanyin, which is usually quite good, many of their Chinese oolongs tend to be hit or miss at best.

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77

This was one of my sipdowns from the first half of April. I don’t know why, but I just have had a hard time getting around to posting a review of this tea. I’m guessing the fact that it offered such a roller coaster of a drinking experience has had something to do with that. This tea was different literally every single time I tried it and was up and down over the entirety of every gongfu session I attempted.

It should come as no surprise that I primarily prepared this tea gongfu style. For the review session, I started off by steeping 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 8 seconds following the rinse. This infusion was followed by 17 subsequent 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, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of roasted almond, brown sugar, toast, honey, chocolate, nectarine, and citrus. After the rinse, I detected aromas of rose, vanilla, and butter alongside a clearly defined grapefruit scent. The first infusion introduced aromas of candied pomelo, orange zest, and plum. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of grapefruit, candied pomelo, toast, roasted almond, and plum that were chased by hints of orange zest, vanilla, brown sugar, rose, cream, butter, and pear. The impressions of cream, butter, vanilla, and orange zest grew stronger after the swallow, lingering in the mouth and throat for a considerable time. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of pear, peach, cherry, cinnamon, juniper, malt, earth, apple, and grass. Stronger and more immediate notes of rose, vanilla, cream, butter, pear, and orange zest came out in the mouth alongside notes of peach, minerals, apple, cherry, malt, lemon zest, and juniper. I also found notes of honey and nectarine and subtle hints of grass, earth, nutmeg, cinnamon, and chocolate. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, cream, vanilla, roasted almond, toast, pear, cherry, and orange zest that were balanced by hints of lemon zest, grapefruit, peach, grass, juniper, malt, and honey.

This was a very interesting and often somewhat challenging Gui Fei oolong. It was quite heavy on the fruitier aromas and flavors, which I definitely liked about it, but it also did not offer a consistent drinking experience from infusion to infusion or session to session. There were definite peaks and valleys over the course of my review session and every other session I tried with this tea. In the end, I found that I respected it a little more than I enjoyed it as it was a rather fussy, temperamental tea that offered respectable longevity and complexity but not the kind of accessibility and reliability I tend to expect of most Gui Fei oolongs.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Brown Sugar, Butter, Candy, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cream, Earth, Grapefruit, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Pear, Plums, Rose, Stonefruits, Toast, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
derk

You got way more out of this than I did. What harvest did you have?

eastkyteaguy

I think mine was from the 2017 harvest. It was an odd tea regardless. I had to dig deep to get much out of it. I should also note that I think I may have been too generous with my numerical score because while I liked some of the aromas and flavors, this just wasn’t a fun tea to drink.

derk

Did you get any of the grittiness in texture, almost sandy? I don’t recall seeing anything floating around in the liquor that would produce that effect. It was a chore for me to finish the 50g bag I purchased. Toward the end of the bag, I packed up what little remained and left it on the community table in my apartment building lobby.

eastkyteaguy

derk, I’m sorry I couldn’t reply to you sooner. I noticed the gritty texture too. It was not that distracting at first, but it did grate on me a little after a point. I suppose I was fortunate in that I only committed to a 25 g pouch of this tea because I very likely would have gotten sick of it had I been required to drink any more of it. For me, this was one of those teas where I liked the aromas and flavors it offered, but everything else about it was a little out of whack. Drinking it turned into something of a chore pretty quickly.

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76

Well, this is is something you don’t see every day: a roasted Wenshan baozhong offered by a Western vendor. When I saw this tea on What-Cha’s website, I just had to buy it. Roasted baozhong has gotten hard to find in recent years as preferences have shifted toward the now ubiquitous jade baozhong. As a matter of fact, I had only ever gotten to try one other roasted baozhong prior to trying this one. I was excited to try this tea, not only because roasted baozhong seems to now be so rare, but also because several people whose individual tastes I trust indicated that they greatly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I ended up not being as impressed by it. It did not strike me as being a bad tea, but it also had a few little quirks that rubbed me the wrong way and that I could not ignore for any length of time.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick 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 emitted aromas of orchid, vanilla, smoke, cream, and roasted almond. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of cinnamon, apple, and baked bread. The first infusion introduced aromas of toasted rice, steamed milk, and roasted barley. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of orchid, sugarcane, vanilla, cream, butter, baked bread, roasted almond, cinnamon, and apple that were balanced by subtler impressions of toasted rice, roasted barley, smoke, grass, coriander, and steamed milk. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of coriander, sugarcane, butter, daylily, grass, and seaweed. Stronger and more immediately noticeable grass, roasted barley, steamed milk, and coriander flavors came out in the mouth alongside spinach, watercress, seaweed, Asian pear, mineral, plum, daylily, and daylily shoot notes. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized impressions of minerals, pear, toasted rice, butter, cream, apple, baked bread, grass, roasted almond, and spinach that were chased by hints of plum, seaweed, sugarcane, and coriander.

In the end, I’m still not sure about this one. It has been about a week since I finished what I had of it, and I am still not sure I can assign it a numerical score with any confidence. Unlike the other reviewers, I seemed to get considerably greener, more vegetal notes out of this tea, and the way many of them lingered in my mouth and on the back of my throat after each swallow came to annoy me pretty quickly. That’s unfortunate too because the roast seemed to have been very artfully applied to this tea; it produced some absolutely lovely, balanced aromas and flavors. The floral and fruity impressions were also very nice. I picked up both daylily and daylily shoot impressions in this tea, which was odd considering that I generally find those notes in teas produced from the Jin Xuan cultivar, and this, like presumably every other traditional Wenshan baozhong currently on the planet, was produced from the Qing Xin cultivar. In the end, I suppose I should just state that this tea was a mixed bag for me. There were things about it I enjoyed and found interesting, but there were also things about it that irked me. In the end, I think there was more good than bad in this tea, so a score of 76 feels about right for now.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, Butter, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cream, Floral, Grass, Milk, Orchid, Pear, Plums, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Seaweed, Smoke, Spinach, Sugarcane, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Vegetal

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
derk

For what it’s worth, it seems like the 3 of us that had reviewed it prior to yourself had done longer gongfu infusions. Maybe the vegetal qualities and quirkiness that you experienced were smoothed over with longer steeping times.

I enjoyed this tea so much it prompted me to purchase several roasted Baozhong samples from other vendors since What-Cha’s was out of stock. If you want to try another one, I’d be happy to split my samples with you. I have a light roast, dark roast and one from the 1990s, none of which I have opened yet.

eastkyteaguy

I tried this one Western style as well, but I kept getting those annoying vegetal notes. Generally, I don’t mind them and even like seeing them in some lighter roasted oolongs (Ruan Zhi, Jin Xuan, and Tieguanyin especially), but for some reason, they just struck me as being really pronounced and annoying no matter how I brewed them.

derk

Strange I didn’t pick up on any of that though I wasn’t fully focused on the tea and had only the small sample. Within my setting, I found the tea to be very well balanced. Maybe you’d like a heavier roast? I’m also curious if you recall or have a note on Steepster for the only other roasted Baozhong you tried.

eastkyteaguy

For me, that’s probably what the issue was. Unlike a lot of people, I tend to like heavier roasts for a lot of oolongs. I do have a note on the other roasted baozhong. I bought it from Tealyra a couple years ago. I think it is just listed as Wen Shan Bao Zhong Baked.

ashmanra

I have never heard of a roasted wenshan baozhong! I have only had green.

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91

Though I had already tried a 2017 Feng Qing dragon pearl black tea from What-Cha, I decided to try some of these 2017 Feng Qing dragon pearls from Yunnan Sourcing simply because I wanted to attempt to gauge how more or less the same tea can differ after being in the hands of two different vendors. In many instances, I find that formed teas, even those produced from the same harvest, can display significant variation from vendor to vendor and brewing session to brewing session. Sometimes it’s almost like drinking an entirely tea, and while the same can be said of loose leaf teas as well, I find that I get more variation out of formed teas for whatever reason. What really surprised me about this tea was how different from the presumably more or less identical What-Cha offering it struck me as being. The dragon pearls I purchased from What-Cha seemed slightly smaller and were also a little earthier and more mellow. These seemed slightly larger and also livelier and pricklier. Of the two offerings, I definitely preferred this one.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse (about 10 seconds) , I steeped two dragon balls (just shy of 7g in combined weight) in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 infusions in water of the same temperature. 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. I then steeped the remains of the dragon balls in 200 F water for 30 minutes, and then I ended the session by steeping them in 205 F water for 40 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry dragon balls produced aromas of malt, cream, chocolate, molasses, earth, brown sugar, and eucalyptus. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of baked bread, vanilla, butter, and sugarcane that were backed by subtler scents of banana and sweet potato. The first infusion brought out aromas of marshmallow and roasted almond. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented delicate, smooth notes of malt, cream, earth, baked bread, sugarcane, and vanilla that were chased by hints of brown sugar, banana, marshmallow, and roasted almond. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of pine, camphor, black pepper, honey, oats, cinnamon, and orange zest. Notes of sweet potato, eucalyptus, butter, and chocolate emerged in the mouth alongside slightly stronger notes of marshmallow and roasted almond. New notes of minerals, pine, camphor, black pepper, cinnamon, oats, and orange zest also appeared. In places, I also found subtle impressions of molasses, honey, clove, and tobacco in the background. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, earth, malt, cream, roasted almond, and baked bread that were underscored by hints of butter, tobacco, cinnamon, sweet potato, camphor, black pepper, pine, orange zest, and eucalyptus. There were also some fleeting, often just barely detectable hints of banana and marshmallow.

I was really impressed by the depth, complexity, liveliness, and longevity of these dragon pearls. Though I tend to not be a huge fan of formed black teas, this one was highly enjoyable for me. Compared to its sister offering from What-Cha, this tea consistently offered greater character in a gongfu session and also had a few highly enjoyable quirks that I either did not pick up in the other tea or did not pick up to the same extent. In summation, this was definitely a worthwhile dragon pearl black tea. I’m glad I took the opportunity to try it.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Camphor, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, Cream, Earth, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Oats, Orange Zest, Pine, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Vanilla

Preparation
7 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
derk

Would you say these would do well grandpa style? I’m looking for an easy, transportable, lively dianhong I can brew during fieldwork mornings in my thermos and especially when I’m staying in hotels for work. Open to other suggestions!

eastkyteaguy

Oh yeah! These would most definitely work well grandpa style. I grandpa brewed some of them myself. I found that they came off a bit earthier and more herbal when brewed that way, though they had some great, pronounced sweet potato, chocolate, sugarcane, and vanilla notes too. Be aware that these are usually threaded together, so if you actually want to closely inspect the leaves between refills or get them to fully expand, you will likely have to pick them out and remove the thread.

derk

Thank you :) Added to the wishlist for my next order with YS.

eastkyteaguy

No problem.

Martin Bednář

I would not expect those fresh notes (pine, orange zest, eukalyptus et cetera) in black tea. Probably I should try them when I order something from What-Cha next time.

eastkyteaguy

Martin, it might just be me, but it also might be a combination of the black teas you’re used to and the way you brew them. In general, I find that many Yunnan black teas have a combination of fresh fruity flavors, vegetal characteristics, woody impressions, and spicy, herbal notes. The Feng Qing black teas and certain Mengku and Yiwu black teas are particularly known for them. You can acquire such teas from What-Cha every now and then, but your best bet is probably Yunnan Sourcing. Yunnan Sourcing was arguably the vendor primarily responsible for elevating the game with regard to sourcing Yunnan black teas and also increasing awareness of Yunnan black teas among key segments of the Western market. They have an unbelievable number of product listings from year to year, which can be overwhelming, but their offerings tend to be widely reviewed on Steepster by a number of users, and they tend to command a lot of attention and respect on other platforms. I’ve had quite a few myself and would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, provide recommendations, or point you in the direction of resources for acquiring additional information.

Martin Bednář

eastkyteaguy – thank you for explaining it so widely for me. I know that YS is really great; but tthe shipping costs are the troublesome for me a bit. I tried to make some orders, but always stuck with it. As poor University student I can´t just pick anything I would like to try. That´s why What-cha is better for me, as their shipping prices are okay.

Anyway – it will be in my wishlist, and sometimes (maybe after some super money time) I will order something. At least I know that something like that can exist.

eastkyteaguy

Martin, I feel your pain. I’m getting ready to be a poor university student again. I have had to pass on purchasing any of the spring 2019 Yunnan Sourcing teas simply because I could not justify the shipping cost. I still have a ton of viable tea from the last couple of years sitting around, though, so I should be able to carry myself through the next year.

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90

Here is another black tea review. I figured I might as well post another before calling it a day. If I manage to make it back on here to post any other reviews before the end of the month, I’ll try to mix it up a little as I don’t want to ignore a couple of the oolong reviews I have remaining in my notebook. This was one of my more recent sipdowns. I think I finished the last of this tea sometime around the middle of last week. Overall, it was a very nice Yunnan black tea.

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 followed by 18 subsequent 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 buds produced aromas of chocolate, marshmallow, malt, pine, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of sugarcane, roasted peanut, plum, and honey. The first infusion introduced aromas of vanilla, maple candy, and baked bread. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of chocolate, marshmallow, malt, cinnamon, pine, plum, and sugarcane that were backed by hints of vanilla, roasted peanut, baked bread, honey, and maple candy. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of cream, earth, cooked green beans, butter, camphor, and eucalyptus. New notes of cream, butter, earth, grass, cooked green beans, sweet potato, caramel, minerals, orange zest, and toast appeared in the mouth along with stronger and more prominent vanilla and maple candy notes and hints of eucalyptus and camphor. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to offer notes of minerals, cream, vanilla, malt, earth, chocolate, marshmallow, and toast that were chased by hints of pine, roasted peanut, camphor, sweet potato, butter, and sugarcane.

As Yunnan black teas go, I found this one to be very sophisticated. It was also frequently much subtler than one would expect. I particularly appreciated that its bouquet did not always emphasize some of the more typical Yunnan black tea aromas. Also, what it expressed on the nose was reminiscent of but also not always wholly identical to what came out in the mouth, and this tendency made this tea a rather interesting drinking experience. In the end, this was an intriguing, refined, and highly enjoyable Yunnan black tea. Fans of such teas would likely get a pretty big kick out of it.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Camphor, Candy, Caramel, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Green Beans, Honey, Malt, Maple, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Plums, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Toast, Vanilla

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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