900 Tasting Notes

94

This was the last of the spring 2017 Dan Cong oolongs I finished in December, and honestly, it was my favorite of the bunch. Prior to trying this tea, I had never tried a Song Zhong Dan Cong. Even though this offering was not even listed as Yunnan Sourcing’s most premium 2017 Song Zhong, I still loved it. It had a ton of character and was a tremendously enjoyable tea to drink.

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 7 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 emitted aromas of cream, peach, honey, orchid, pomegranate, and vanilla. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted almond, grass, and spinach. The first infusion brought out subtle baked bread and sweet potato aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, honey, orchid, roasted almond, and vanilla that quickly gave way to impressions of baked bread, grass, and sweet potato. Hints of spinach and pomegranate were just barely perceptible in the aftertaste. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cinnamon, wood, and steamed milk as well as subtle scents of brown sugar. Peach notes belatedly appeared in the mouth along with impressions of brown sugar, minerals, cattail shoots, cinnamon, steamed milk, orange zest, honeydew, plum, and pear. I also noted interesting hints of watermelon rind, cucumber, and wood. As the tea faded, the liquor settled, offering notes of minerals, cream, orange zest, pear, grass, and sweet potato that were underscored by subtle hints of orchid, brown sugar, cucumber, honeydew, steamed milk, watermelon rind, and roasted almond.

An absolutely fascinating and delightful Dan Cong oolong, I can only wonder how well Yunnan Sourcing’s pricier and fancier Song Zhong holds up to it. This tea produced a liquor that displayed great depth and complexity, wonderful body and texture, and respectable longevity. There were a few points where I thought the layering of flavors could have been a little smoother, but otherwise, I had no real complaints with this tea. Check it out if you are looking for an enjoyable introductory/regular Song Zhong at a decent price.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Cream, Cucumber, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Honeydew, Melon, Milk, Mineral, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Plums, Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Vegetal, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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85

This was another of my most recent sipdowns. I finished a 25 gram pouch of this tea towards the end of last week. As autumn flush Darjeeling black teas go, this was a very unique and interesting offering. After last year’s strike was ended, the Darjeeling tea estates reopened for business, and this was the first Darjeeling tea Alistair was able to source from the folks at the renowned Gopaldhara Tea Estate. Now, Gopaldhara’s autumn flush black teas are usually very crisp, light, and subtle, but owing to the unique circumstances surrounding this tea’s production, it ended up being a much darker, fruitier, and heavier tea. Ultimately, I found it very enjoyable, though I am much more partial to the lighter, smoother autumn flush offerings from Gopaldhara.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. I neither rinsed the leaves nor attempted any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material produced aromas of wood, hay, raisin, and earth. After infusion, the tea liquor revealed aromas of malt, brown toast, orange, plum, cherry, and rose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of earth, wood, hay, malt, grass, smoke, and dandelion greens that gave way to impressions of orange, brown toast, rose, cherry, raisin, and plum. Underlying impressions of minerals, Muscatel, butter, and tobacco eventually became detectable as well. Malt, brown toast, and earth notes took over on the finish with more assertive butter notes and a slight astringency also appearing.

This was a very enjoyable Darjeeling black tea, but it was also not really what I have come to expect from Gopaldhara’s autumn flush offerings. To be honest, fans of earthier and heavier Darjeeling black teas would probably get more out of this one than I did. Still, I am glad I took the opportunity to try this tea and would not caution others to avoid it. If you are familiar with Gopaldhara’s offerings and are a fan of autumn flush Darjeeling black teas, it is very much worth a try simply because it is so different from Gopaldhara’s regular autumn offerings.

Flavors: Astringent, Brown Toast, Butter, Cherry, Earth, Grass, Hay, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Orange, Plums, Raisins, Rose, Smoke, Tobacco, Vegetal, Wood

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

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95

I know I stated that I intended to post reviews of the rest of the teas I drank in October, November, and December before moving on to anything consumed in January in one of my most recent reviews, but I very quickly changed my mind about that. For one thing, I wanted to get some of my more recent sipdowns reviewed while they were still fresh in my mind, and for another, this tea was just so captivating that I could not resist the urge to go ahead and post a review of it. I finished a 50 gram pouch of this tea last night, and quite frankly, I was very sad to see it go as it was one of the very best Yunnan 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 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 buds produced aromas of baked bread, malt, cream, sweet potato, pine, and eucalyptus. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. The first infusion then introduced subtle aromas of roasted almond and cocoa alongside a stronger scent of juniper. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, pine, cream, baked bread, and sweet potato that were chased by impressions of black pepper, eucalyptus, cinnamon, and juniper before hints of cocoa, roasted peanut, marshmallow, caramel, and roasted almond made themselves known. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of marshmallow, camphor, cedar, clove, fennel, caramel, lemon zest, and orange zest as well as subtler, more fleeting scents of earth, tobacco, and molasses. New notes of minerals, butter, molasses, clove, cedar, fennel, camphor, earth, orange zest, and lemon zest came out in the mouth alongside stronger notes of cocoa, caramel, and marshmallow. Impressions of nutmeg also belatedly appeared in the mouth, and I caught some hints of sugarcane, apricot, tobacco, green beans, celery, and green olive too. As the tea faded, the liquor offered notes of minerals, roasted peanut, cream, malt, lemon zest, and orange zest that were underscored by lingering hints of cocoa, sweet potato, roasted almond, baked bread, cinnamon, black pepper, juniper, tobacco, eucalyptus, camphor, and marshmallow. Somewhat stronger impressions of green beans, celery, and green olive lingered in the mouth after each swallow.

This was a ridiculously complex and challenging Dian Hong, but it was also tremendously enjoyable at the same time. Once again, the Feng Qing Dian Hong Group managed to impress me with their work. Definitely give this tea a shot if you have any interest in Yunnan black teas and are familiar with Feng Qing teas.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Celery, Cinnamon, Clove, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Lemon Zest, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Nutmeg, Olives, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Kawaii433

18 infusions… Wow.
Great review.

eastkyteaguy

I tried to space out of each of my infusions so that the tea did not exhaust itself as quickly. I’m pretty sure this tea was the same as What-Cha’s China Yunnan Golden Buds Black Tea from spring 2017, but oddly, I kept this going much longer and got much more out of it. I don’t know if the additional time in storage had anything to do with that or if it was just the fact that I have been drinking more Feng Qing tea lately. I know my palate has changed considerably in the space of the last 6-7 months, so I’m sure that had an effect.

Kawaii433

Thank you for the extra detail. :D It helps me learn.

eastkyteaguy

No problem.

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60

This was the last of the Indian oolongs I consumed in 2018 and the second of two Assam oolongs I have tried to this point in my tea drinking life. This one gave me the impression that maybe they are just not for me. This tea struck me as being somewhat odd, though it was not nearly as challenging or as memorable as the Halmari Special Summer Oolong.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 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, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf material produced aromas of cream, malt, wood, roasted almond, and brown sugar. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of straw, honeysuckle, and menthol. The first infusion did not seem to introduce any new aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, malt, wood, roasted almond, toasted cashew, honeysuckle, and menthol that were chased by hints of straw, brown sugar, grass, and watermelon rind. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of watermelon, lemon zest, coriander, and cucumber. Stronger and more upfront watermelon rind and grass notes appeared in the mouth along with impressions of minerals, cucumber, and lemon zest. There were also some stray hints of coriander here and there. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, malt, lemon zest, and watermelon rind that were underscored by hints of cucumber, grass, cream, wood, and menthol.

Compared to the Halmari oolong, this was a much simpler and more straightforward tea, though it was also much shorter-lived and less memorable. It kind of just was. In the end, I could not muster much of a reaction to it. I guess it was okay for what it was. It was certainly less prickly and unpredictable than the other Assam oolong, but it was also less fun to drink and much plainer. If there were a numerical score that could be summed up with the description “not bad, but whatever,” it would probably be a 60. That’s all this tea was to me, and perhaps it could even be argued that I am being a tad generous.

Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Honeysuckle, Lemon Zest, Malt, Melon, Menthol, Mineral, Nutty, Straw, Wood

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

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78

Before I properly begin this review, allow me to state that this tea pushed me into unknown territory. Prior to trying it, I was at least somewhat familiar with Indian oolongs and had tried several oolongs produced from assamica cultivars, but I had tried no oolongs of any kind from the state of Assam. I decided to give this one a shot simply because I had tried a few enjoyable black teas from Halmari and was aware that the teas produced by the estate enjoyed a great reputation internationally. Once I actually got around to trying it, however, I immediately knew that this tea was going to be difficult for me. In terms of look, the leaf material looked more like a black tea than any sort of oolong, and the smell let me know that this tea was going to be pungent and challenging. Ultimately, I enjoyed it, at least to an extent, but I also had and still have nothing with which to compare it.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf material in 4 ounces of 185 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 produced aromas of hay, malt, wood, honey, and molasses. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted almond, toasted cashew, orange zest, and brown sugar. The first infusion introduced aromas of apricot, peach, eucalyptus, black pepper, and orange blossom. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, hay, wood, honey, orange zest, brown sugar, roasted almond, and toasted cashew that were balanced by hints of cream, orange blossom, butter, molasses, eucalyptus, and horehound. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of lemon zest, toast, wintergreen, cocoa, and roasted walnut. Apricot, peach, and black pepper notes belatedly appeared in the mouth alongside new impressions of minerals, roasted walnut, wintergreen, lemon zest, cocoa, marigold, and toast. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to present notes of minerals, toast, malt, brown sugar, and honey that were balanced by hints of lemon zest, eucalyptus, roasted almond, toasted cashew, cream, and wood.

This struck me as being a truly odd tea. In terms of aroma and flavor, it fell somewhere between a traditional Assam black tea and a Darjeeling or Nepalese oolong. A lot of the aroma and flavor components I found were unexpected and combined in interesting though not always comfortable ways. Part of me suspects that this tea was not all that well-suited to a gongfu brewing approach, but to be honest, the couple of Western infusions that I later tried did not really differ all that much. Overall, I did not dislike this tea, but I expected more and found that it did not move me much after a point. In this case, a score of 78 feels about right to me.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cocoa, Cream, Eucalyptus, Floral, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Nutty, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Peach, Toast, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I’ve had a hard time finishing the Assam Oolong I have. It’s a little too malty for me personally.

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96

Here is another review of a December sipdown for everyone to enjoy. As a side note, I should be able to get the rest of the December reviews posted by the end of the week. In addition to the remaining December reviews, I have two other old reviews (one from October that I completely forgot about and another from November that I just haven’t been in the mood to fool with for over a month) that I will also post in the very near future so I can move on to the current month’s sipdowns. I only had a 10 gram sample pouch of this tea and finished it sometime around Christmas. I can be pretty hard on Wuyi Shui Xian at times, but I found this one to be excellent. Had it not peaked so quickly, I probably would have assigned it a score between 98 and 100, but I chose to dock a few points (mostly) due to its rather brief peak and fast yet pleasant fade.

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 followed by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaves produced aromas of black cherry, pine, blackberry, cinnamon, cedar, and blueberry. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, caramel, rock sugar, and ginger. The first infusion then introduced subtle aromas of roasted peanut and cream. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, roasted almond, cream, cinnamon, pine, and roasted peanut that were chased by hints of ginger, rock sugar, malt, and grass. There were also some cooling notes in the aftertaste that reminded me of both tobacco and menthol. Subsequent infusions introduced aromas of grass, tar, baked bread, pomegranate, mushroom, and earth. Stronger and more upfront notes of grass, rock sugar, and malt appeared alongside belatedly emerging notes of caramel and cedar in the mouth. I also noted new impressions of minerals, baked bread, and butter accompanying subtler notes of tar, earth, black pepper, pomegranate, and mushroom. The same menthol and tobacco notes continued to linger in the mouth after each swallow. As the tea faded, the tea liquor offered notes of minerals, earth, pine, mushroom, malt, cream, and roasted peanut that were underscored by hints of butter, baked bread, black cherry, rock sugar, and grass. Once again, cooling notes of menthol and tobacco were evident in the aftertaste, yet at the end of the session, they were also joined by an unexpected hint of popcorn.

In my opinion, this was about as good as a Wuyi Shui Xian could possibly be. I was slightly disappointed by the leaf quality and the tea’s sudden peak and quick fade, but honestly, this tea was enjoyable enough to almost entirely make up for those two quibbles. What-Cha tends to source some very enjoyable Wuyi teas, and this one was certainly a worthy addition to the stable. If you are able to acquire some at any point, I would definitely recommend giving this tea a shot.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Fruity, Ginger, Grass, Malt, Menthol, Mushrooms, Peanut, Pine, Popcorn, Roasted, Sugar, Tar, Tobacco

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
derk

I would love to see a reintroduction of What-Cha’s Zhengyan oolong. From the one I’ve had and the reviews I’ve seen of others, whoever he procured it from sourced some fantastic teas for good prices.

eastkyteaguy

Yeah, same here. I’ve got some of the Da Hong Pao that I have yet to tear into, but I have now had the Qilan, Shui Xian, and Fo Shou (haven’t reviewed that one yet). All three were fantastic. I recall Alistair mentioning at one point that he does not always stock Wuyi oolongs because they do not always sell well and he has no way of consistently gauging interest.

Daylon R Thomas

Have you tried the fragrant version of this he has on stock?

eastkyteaguy

Not yet. I nearly bought some as a birthday gift to myself, but have not pulled the trigger yet. I know it is a winter harvest Shui Xian from Dao Shui Keng, which I think is in the Banyan growing area. I’ll probably end up purchasing at least 25 g of it this week or next.

Kawaii433

I sure hope this one comes back in stock. I’ve had it on my wishlist. It’s on the “Out of Stock but returning”. I’ll get the fragrant one for now too. Same with their China Fujian Zhengyan 2014 “Da Hong Pao” that Derk gave a great review on a while ago.

Thanks for the great review and Happy birthday! :D

eastkyteaguy

Thanks. The birthday doesn’t actually come around until Friday, but I appreciate it. Also, I need to try that Da Hong Pao. I’ve had a pouch of it sitting around for quite a while now.

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94

Here is another of my sipdowns from December. The pouch of this tea I had was purchased back in November 2016, not that I clearly recall buying it. Tealyra always puts an expiration date of one year from the time of purchase on each pouch of tea they sell, so who knows when this tea was actually produced. If I had to guess, I would say Spring 2016, but I cannot really be sure. All I know is that the expiration date on my pouch was November 2017. It had been sitting in its sealed pouch on top of my dresser for at least five or six months. I had been cleaning out one of my tea totes when I found the pouch, noted the expiration date, and decided to throw it out. And then I changed my mind. I decided I wanted to at least try the tea to see if it was still worth drinking and then placed the pouch on top of my dresser. Though it was sitting there in plain sight for months, I totally forgot about it until I was putting some laundry away. I literally looked up and there it was. Curiosity got the better of me at that point. Upon cracking the pouch open, I was greeted by this lovely, complex aroma, realized that the tea was still totally drinkable, and started brewing some immediately. I went through the pouch quickly, only spending about two days with it, but in that time I got a couple of great gongfu sessions out of what I had and even brewed up a killer pot of tea Western style, though I unfortunately did not take any notes when I brewed this tea in that fashion. Even with some age on it, this was still a great Taiwanese black tea with tons to offer. I wish I had gotten around to trying it sooner.

Both of the gongfu sessions were conducted in identical fashion and produced identical results. I started by flash rinsing 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 205 F water and then steeped them for 5 seconds. This initial 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 emitted aromas of honey, cinnamon, pine, roasted almond, and tobacco. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of baked bread, brown sugar, dark chocolate, blackberry, and blueberry. The first infusion then introduced aromas of cream and malt. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of honey, cinnamon, pine, roasted almond, cream, and earth that were chased by hints of tobacco, brown sugar, dark chocolate, raisin, and baked bread. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of rose, raisin, butter, menthol, and black cherry. Hints of blackberry, blueberry, and malt appeared in the mouth alongside stronger and more immediate notes of dark chocolate and brown sugar. I also found new notes of minerals, butter, rose, menthol, black cherry, and smoke, with cooling impressions of menthol and tobacco lingering in the mouth after each swallow. As the tea faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, cream, and baked bread along with somewhat amplified malt notes. These impressions were backed in the mouth by hints of butter, brown sugar, raisin, smoke, pine, and black cherry.

Well, this was an awesome black tea. Its liquor peaked quickly in the mouth and faded just as quickly, but I am guessing that was more due to the age of the leaves with which I was brewing than anything else. Even though it had clearly lost a step in storage, this tea still had a ton to offer both on the nose and in the mouth, producing a long, satisfying session. Apparently, Tealyra has not offered this tea again in the last couple of years, and that is truly a shame. I would love to know which farm produced this tea so that I can try to find a more recent harvest offered by another vendor.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Pine, Raisins, Rose, Smoke, Tobacco

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Kawaii433

Hoping it’ll come back.

eastkyteaguy

Kawaii433, same here. I thought when I first opened this that it might be the same as some of the other Taiwanese black teas I have tried, and though a lot of the aroma and flavor components were similar, they were not identical. I’m not certain that the age had anything to do with that either since the leaves struck me as being unique compared to the few other Taiwanese black teas I have tried.

Kawaii433

eastkyteaguy, interesting. Dang, now I’m really hoping it’ll come back. I saved it on my wishlist to remind me to check for it. Thanks for the great review on it.

Evol Ving Ness

Glad it is not just me :)

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91

Well, a new year has arrived and I am still trying to get all of my backlogged reviews posted. Go figure. 2018 was a horrible year for me and just about everyone I know, so I’m hoping that 2019 will be better. I’m already making some progress on my New Year’s resolutions; I spent last night and most of this morning reorganizing my record collection and boxing up the records I don’t want anymore so that I can sell them. I’m about halfway done with that and would have gotten more done had my plumber not shown up to work on the outdoor faucets. I’ve also been working on keeping my house cleaner and have started a new workout regimen. I’m trying to get my sleep schedule back on track too and have started applying to graduate programs in earnest. Kids, really take the time to find a stable professional niche unless you want to end up like me and starting all over from scratch as a 33 year old. Getting back on track, this was the last of the black teas I drank in December. Of the bunch, it was one of the best and by far the most unique.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 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 buds emitted aromas of malt, hay, straw, marshmallow, and eucalyptus. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, black pepper, cream, chili leaf, and bay leaf. The first infusion then introduced aromas of baked bread and green bell pepper. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, hay, straw, marshmallow, baked bread, and cream that were chased by hints of grass, watermelon rind, brown sugar, and roasted pecan. The subsequent infusions quickly introduced aromas of ginger, butter, orange zest, roasted pecan, sugarcane, cinnamon, and sweet potato. Notes of black pepper, green bell pepper, bay leaf, and chili leaf belatedly emerged in the mouth along with stronger and more immediate brown sugar and watermelon rind notes and hints of eucalyptus and roasted peanut. New notes of minerals, vanilla, orange zest, butter, cinnamon, sweet potato, honeydew, earth, and sugarcane also appeared along with hints of ginger and celery. Each swallow saw the eucalyptus, bay leaf, celery, and green bell pepper notes linger, leaving a unique herbal, spicy, vegetal aftertaste. By the end of the session, the faded tea liquor offered mineral, malt, cream, marshmallow, and baked bread notes that were chased by a slight woody note that I did not previously catch and hints of watermelon rind, sugarcane, roasted peanut, orange zest, earth, vanilla, and hay. Naturally, the swallow was still followed by a spicy, herbal, vegetal aftertaste, but it was subtler this time and the green bell pepper notes were absent.

This was a very complex tea with a ton to offer. Compared to some of the other Dian Hong I have tried recently, this one was much spicier, more herbal, and more vegetal. Like every other Feng Qing tea I have tried, it had a unique character that is hard for me to accurately describe. Established fans of Feng Qing teas would probably find a ton to like in this offering, but for those of you who have not tried as many Feng Qing offerings, this would not be the tea with which to start due to its complexity.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Celery, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Herbaceous, Honeydew, Malt, Marshmallow, Melon, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pecan, Straw, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Kawaii433

Yes, it was definitely a bad year for most. Here’s hoping for a good year for you and others. :)

33 is still young. ^^ When I was deciding on a 2nd doctorate (law), my mentor in law school told me she was 55 when she began & she was absolutely frickin awesome, had a great practice, everything. :D. She told me “In 10 years, you’re going to be 10 years older anyway.” Best. Advice. Ever.

derk

eastkyteaguy: wanted to let you know you’re not alone at starting over from scratch at 33. I’ll be done with my current educational path by the time I’m 38 assuming no more major setbacks. Keep your eyes on the goal and you’ll get where you want to be. Send me a message sometime if you’re having doubts.
What records are you selling?

eastkyteaguy

derk, Right now I’m decluttering the house and selling off a lot of alternative/indie rock and indie pop records to a collector I know. I spent way too much money on music and tea the last couple years. Part of my collection of the former has been cluttering up my bedroom simply because I do not have enough storage at present, so I’m getting rid of a lot of the stuff I don’t listen to as much. I tend to listen to mostly older music anyway, but have had a huge collection of more recent alternative and indie for several years. It was either get rid of that or get rid of my collection of metal and older rock records, so I opted to keep the stuff I listen to more frequently.

eastkyteaguy

Oh, and right now I’m looking toward school psychology as a career path. My undergraduate degree was in English. I then completed a graduate certificate in nonprofit management and an M.A. in teaching. Unfortunately, I came out of my M.A. program right as the state was making some pretty drastic changes to the middle and secondary grades curricula, and I was not able to secure a teaching position upon graduation due to my academic specialization not being tested at the time. I then ended up working in the mental health field simply because I could not find a job in my profession. Honestly, I very quickly came to dislike teaching anyway. I had the potential to be good at it, but I found out that I could not stand the workplace politics during my teaching internship. I left my old employer last year with the intention of going back to school. At the time, I was thinking about occupational therapy, and I had looked into chiropractic prior to that, but ultimately wanted to do something that combined my background in education and mental health and that would both allow me to make decent money for once and not teach. I tried to find a better job in the meantime, but my resume is totally shot. I’m currently employed in a business my parents own, so employers won’t take that experience seriously. My previous employer’s HR department apparently has an unofficial policy of not providing references. Even if I could get some of my old supervisors to give references, most have either been let go or have retired since I left. With the exception of maybe one, the two who are still there are totally untrustworthy. My employer before that replaced their entire administration, and their HR never kept accurate personnel files. The company that employed me before that was dissolved. Both of the counties in which I worked as a substitute teacher have undergone administrative overhauls. I can’t even get references from my teaching internship since my teacher mentor (who was an alcoholic jerk, by the way) was transferred to another school (well, actually fired and then rehired at a different school within the same school system from what I understand), and the school I interned at was also consolidated, so it no longer exists.

Kawaii433

That sucks :(. Getting letters of recommendation and/or references is frustrating in itself, let alone compounded with so many unfortunate events. If your work ethic is anything like your reviews (details, fluidity, comprehensive…. Etc.), I have no doubt, in the end, you’ll be highly successful. I’ve found people who are excellent at “play”, are excellent at “work”. Let us know if you need anything.

derk

eastkyteaguy: I was able to set up my turntable in my bedroom over the weekend. I was hoping to get a peek at what you’re selling, but alas they’re on reserve. Good call on keeping your metal and rock albums. My collection is small, only about 25 records. This friend of the family I moved in with is an old hippy with a library of 50s-80s rock, jazz and soul in the garage. Like people are doing on Steepster with sipdowns, I made it a goal to listen to one of her records every day. Tonight is The Who — The Kids Are Alright

derk

I feel your struggles, guy. I haven’t exactly gone down a straight path post-graduation due to being quick to bore, unwillingness to play politics, perhaps foolish decisions and a lack of drive for money. The company I worked for 5 years recently shuttered its doors after 20. In my experience, employers will take any reference you give them, whether from a family business or a previous supervisor. One of the women I supervised just got what would be considered a dream job in our field with her persistence and knowledge and the help of my reference despite the company being dissolved. And I wasn’t even a forewoman. Are administrative or HR references necessary in the field you are pursuing? I bet you could find old connections on ugh LinkedIn.

eastkyteaguy

derk, unfortunately, all of the stuff I am getting rid is probably what you would not be interested in. All of my 60s-early 90s stuff is staying. This is mostly more contemporary indie and alternative. I’m familiar with The Kids Are Alright, by the way. It’s a great jumping off point to exploring The Who’s discography. In my opinion, they never released a truly bad album, but that particular compilation provides a great introduction to a lot of the better material from their best years. It also gives the listener a wonderful feel for The Who as a live band and has an iconic cover to boot. If you haven’t already seen it, track down the documentary from the late 70s for which it served as the soundtrack. Oh, and yeah, my field unfortunately relies on administrative and HR references. At this point, I’m no longer that worried about the job front. I at least have a steady source of income and have been making some headway with graduate applications. I had a successful introductory chat with the coordinator of one of the programs to which I am applying yesterday afternoon, so going back to school and starting over now does not seem quite as frightening. I’m kind of looking forward to it honestly.

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91

This was my most recent sipdown. I purchased a 10 gram pouch of this tea last year, but quickly discovered that the pouch actually contained a full 12 grams of loose tea leaves after cracking it open. I got two gongfu sessions out of that amount, one Wednesday evening and the other yesterday morning. Both were very enjoyable. I have gotten a little better at describing the aromas and flavors of Dan Cong oolongs over the last year or so, and I expected to get more out of this tea than the 2016 version I previously tried because of this, but this tea actually shocked me with just how aromatic and flavorful it was. The aromas it offered literally filled my nose, and its flavors were so robust that they seemed almost explosive in places. After finishing both of my gongfu sessions, I was walking around with the smell of this tea in my nose and a lingering aftertaste in the back of my mouth. This was powerful stuff, to be sure.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. I stuck with the same preparation method both times I drank it, but did not really take clear or comprehensive notes during the first session, thus I am limiting myself to a description of what I experienced during the second session in this review. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 orchid, cream, vanilla, pomegranate, black raspberry, and strawberry. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of candied orange, orange blossom, grass, peach, and white grape. The first infusion introduced scents of plum, almond, and apricot. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of orchid, orange blossom, candied orange, peach, cream, vanilla, plum, pomegranate, and almond that were chased by hints of strawberry, butter, and white grape. Subsequent infusions brought out aromas of lychee, honey, violet, pear, and cherry. Hints of black raspberry belatedly appeared in the mouth along with stronger, clearer, and more immediate notes of white grape and butter. Notes of apricot and grass belatedly appeared too. I also noted impressions of honey, watermelon rind, jasmine, violet, lychee, minerals, pear, cherry, and cattail shoots as well as hints of cucumber, anise, and green apple. By the end of the session, I could still pick out notes of minerals, cream, almond, butter, orchid, violet, and cherry that were backed by fleeting hints of anise, pear, lychee, white grape, and plum.

This was a truly impressive Dan Cong oolong with ridiculous depth and complexity on the nose and in the mouth. Though it did fade quickly towards the end of my review session, I loved its strength and boldness overall and appreciated it never coming off as harsh or unsophisticated. This tea made me wonder why Cao Lan is not more widely known and more extensively cultivated because it was just so enjoyable. Honestly, if you’re looking for a Dan Cong oolong that is absolutely chock full of wonderful fruity and floral aromas and flavors, look no further.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Apricot, Butter, Candy, Cherry, Cream, Cucumber, Fruity, Grass, Green Apple, Honey, Jasmine, Lychee, Melon, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Plums, Raspberry, Strawberry, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet, White Grapes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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84

This was another recent sipdown of mine. Prior to drinking it, it was a tea I had meant to get around to for the better part of a year, but I kept finding other teas to drink and review. Curiosity got the better of me a couple weeks ago, so I went ahead and tore into it. Mostly, I think I just wanted to try it because Yunnan Sourcing’s Big Snow Mountain of Mengku black teas do not get the best ratings on this site and elsewhere, and I wanted to see whether or not I agreed with the majority of the other reviewers. Honestly, I found this to be a rock solid Yunnan black tea, but then again, this particular production has scored somewhat higher ratings than some of the other recent versions of this tea.

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 honey, sweet potato, malt, brown sugar, and tomato. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted peanut, sugarcane, banana, and pine. The first infusion introduced a subtle molasses scent as well as stronger aromas of roasted almond, cinnamon, and eucalyptus. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, sweet potato, malt, banana, cocoa, and roasted almond that were backed by distant hints of cinnamon, brown sugar, and tomato. Subsequent infusions introduced stronger molasses aromas along with scents of cinnamon, cocoa, cream, and red grape. There were also some subtle hints of citrus and smoke on the nose. Roasted peanut, sugarcane, honey, and pine notes came out in the mouth along with slightly stronger impressions of cinnamon and new notes of minerals, red grape, baked bread, lemon zest, and orange zest. Interesting hints of smoke, eucalyptus, and black pepper also made themselves known. By the end of the session, I could still pick up notes of minerals, malt, lemon zest, and roasted peanut that were backed by baked bread, brown sugar, banana, sweet potato, and eucalyptus hints.

This was an interesting tea that had a lot to offer, but in the end, I could understand why some people may have trouble with it and/or teas like it. Though a lot of the aromas and flavors this tea offered were very similar to those offered by many other Yunnan black teas, the way they were expressed was very different. Whereas most Yunnan black teas are thick, rich, and lively, this was a smooth, mellow, and subtle tea with a certain prickliness in texture that likely will not be to everyone’s liking. I enjoyed this tea quite a bit, but it did take a couple days to grow on me. All in all, I would recommend this tea specifically to those who are looking for a Yunnan black tea that offers something truly different. If you are not that type of person, then you may want to avoid this tea.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Eucalyptus, Grapes, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Smoke, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Shanie O Maniac

Thank you. This is the kind of tasting note I strive for. Sadly my Noob palate cannot yet tell the difference between “Earthy” and “Mineral” or “Bitter” and “Smokey” and so on. I’m still very early on in my Tea Journey and I hope someday to have as refined a palate as you for reviewing teas.

Kawaii433

What she said. :D ^^

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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.

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KY

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