943 Tasting Notes

81

This was my first sipdown of the week and a tea I had kind of been planning on trying for some time. I know I mentioned in a previous review that I am not usually a huge fan of dragon pearl teas, but I am a huge fan of Feng Qing black teas, and this was a dragon pearl black tea from Feng Qing. Naturally, I couldn’t pass it up. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from it, but ultimately, I found it to be a very good, very solid Feng Qing black tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of balled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 infusions at 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. After this series of infusions was completed, I steeped the mostly spent tea leaves in 212 F water for 30 minutes just to shake things up a bit.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea balls emitted aromas of malt, cream, sweet potato, honey, and pine. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, vanilla, and sugarcane. The first infusion introduced aromas of chocolate and baked bread. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, cream, sweet potato, vanilla, sugarcane, and pine that were balanced by hints of roasted almond, chocolate, and baked bread. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of fennel, eucalyptus, black pepper, caramel, and marshmallow that were accompanied by subtle scents of clove and cinnamon. Stronger and more immediate roasted almond, chocolate, and baked bread notes emerged in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging honey and roasted peanut notes. Impressions of minerals, butter, fennel, eucalyptus, marshmallow, caramel, black pepper, clove, and orange zest also emerged along with hints of cinnamon. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor started to emphasize notes of minerals, malt, cream, chocolate, caramel, orange zest, marshmallow, fennel, pine, butter, and baked bread that were backed by hints of eucalyptus, black pepper, clove, vanilla, and sweet potato. The final infusion brought back strong, muddled woody, spicy, and herbal flavors that were balanced by cream, malt, and chocolate notes.

This was a very nice Feng Qing black tea that was missing the pronounced earthiness and distinctive vegetal characteristics of many other such teas. On the one hand, I missed these characteristics, yet on the other hand, I greatly enjoyed the smooth, silky, and long-lived tea liquor these dragon pearls yielded. One issue I had with them, however, was that I could not get the pearls to completely crumble on their own. Prior to the final infusion, I noticed that there was what appeared to be white thread running through the middle of each pearl, so I picked them up to investigate, and sure enough, there was thread holding them together. I then pulled it out and went back to work, but I was surprised by this because I had literally never had dragon pearls with thread still in them. And I should also note that I was at least somewhat familiar with Feng Qing dragon pearls and had some experience with them prior to trying this tea. Oh well, the thread surprise did not take away from the tea. It was very nice overall, but I think this tea would probably work best for grandpa brewing on the go or as an introduction to Feng Qing black teas since it was missing some of the more challenging aspects that a number of other such teas bring to the table.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Butter, Caramel, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, Cream, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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77

This was another of my sipdowns from last week. I only had one of these dragon balls, so I had to be careful with it and try to get the most out of it in order to do a thorough review. Since I had already tried the spring 2017 Big Snow Mountain black tea a month or so ago, I was a little curious as to how this dragon ball would differ from the loose leaf offering. I can safely say that this tea did strike me as being slightly different, though I preferred the loose leaf offering over this formed version.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped the entire dragon ball (Yunnan Sourcing claimed that each of these were around 8 grams, but my scale put my dragon ball at right around 9 grams) in 160 ml of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 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, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry dragon ball emitted aromas of malt, honey, sweet potato, brown sugar, and tobacco. After the rinse, I detected aromas of orange zest, pine, banana, and sugarcane. The first infusion introduced aromas of roasted almond, cinnamon, cream, molasses, and eucalyptus. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, cream, sweet potato, orange zest, tobacco, honey, and eucalyptus that were chased by hints of pine, sugarcane, roasted almond, and banana. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cedar, red grape, cocoa, baked bread, and earth. Notes of cocoa, baked bread, cedar, red grape, lemon zest, earth, and minerals came out in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging impressions of cinnamon, brown sugar, and molasses and somewhat stronger notes of pine and sugarcane. I also noted some hints of black pepper that were generally most noticeable right around each swallow. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized impressions of minerals, cream, malt, earth, pine, and lemon zest that were chased by hints of baked bread, black pepper, roasted almond, eucalyptus, banana, and sweet potato.

This was a rather satisfying Yunnan black tea dragon ball. Much like the loose leaf version of this tea offered by Yunnan Sourcing, this one did not impress me much at first but steadily grew on me. I did note, however, that this formed version of the spring 2017 Big Snow Mountain black tea was a little more powerful on the nose than its loose leaf counterpart. I also found it to be smoother and subtler in the mouth while also taking a little longer to open up and reveal its charms. If I had to pick between the two, I would definitely pick the loose leaf offering, primarily because I am a huge fan of strong, flavorful black teas, and I admired the strength and quirkiness of that offering’s liquor. I am also just not the hugest fan of dragon balls. This dragon ball was not much of a step down from the loose leaf offering, though, and its consistently stronger bouquet and smooth, subtle tea liquor were very appealing. Overall, this was a pretty solid offering. Even though I would not likely be in any rush to revisit it, it did not disappoint me in any way.

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

Preparation
9 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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54

My new schedule is killing me. I made the decision to take a master gardening course with my parents, and it really sucks. Actually, I enjoy the course, but it meets every Monday night, and well, Monday used to be my long, slow day at work. Now, I have to get everything done by 5:00 p.m. so I can hop in the shower, get dressed, and make it to class by 6:00 p.m. I don’t make it back home until sometime between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. I figured, however, that I would try to get a couple of reviews posted before I left. This was one of my sipdowns from last week. Though I tend to love teas produced from the Si Ji Chun cultivar, this one was a letdown. It was not terrible or even really bad in any way, just more or less mediocre and kind of forgettable.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 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, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of raisin, plum, cedar, straw, honey, and plantain. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of malt, cream, and cherry that were accompanied by hints of vanilla. The first infusion brought out stronger vanilla scents as well as an oat-like aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of plantain, honey, raisin, cream, malt, vanilla, and straw that were framed by undertones of wood, baked bread, flowers, and cherry. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of baked bread, toasted rice, rose, and pear as well as subtle scents of roasted barley, orchid, and violet. Cedar, plum, and oat notes came out in the mouth alongside stronger and more upfront impressions of baked bread, wood, and cherry. Clear impressions of rose and violet were also present along with some very subtle hints of orchid. Furthermore, I detected impressions of minerals, caramel, pear, toasted rice, and butter along with some subtle hints of roasted barley and cinnamon. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering impressions of minerals, plantain, cedar, raisin, plum, malt, and cream that were balanced by hints of cherry, vanilla, butter, oats, and baked bread. At the very tail end of my review session, I also caught some suddenly amplified pear and cinnamon notes.

This was a pretty standard roasted Taiwanese Four Seasons oolong in just about every way. I will note, however, that it did possess respectable longevity, a smooth body, and a very nice, creamy mouthfeel. Unfortunately, those were the only qualities of this tea that stood out to me. Taken on its own, this tea wasn’t bad, but it also just wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. If you are at all familiar with roasted Si Ji Chun oolongs, I doubt this one will surprise you. In the end, I suppose I would not caution others to avoid it entirely, but if one were to choose to skip it, they would not be missing all that much.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Oats, Orchid, Pear, Plums, Raisins, Roasted Barley, Rose, Straw, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Violet, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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94

I think this was the last of my sipdowns from the previous week. I know I finished like four or five teas I had been working on for some time over the course of the week, and I seem to recall finishing this one last. As much as I enjoyed the spring 2017 Premium AA Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong from Yunnan Sourcing, I expected this tea to be at least as good if not a bit better. Well, as it turned out, this tea did not let me down. I found it to be an excellent Wuyi black 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, pine, peach, rose, baked bread, cinnamon, cedar, and raisin. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, malt, and cream. The first infusion introduced a strong aroma of orange zest as well as subtler scents of violet, grass, and chocolate. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of honey, peach, malt, cedar, baked bread, roasted almond, and cream that were balanced by hints of orange zest, pine, chocolate, pear, violet, red apple, and grass. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of apple, pear, plum, lemon zest, butter, earth, and menthol plus stronger scents of grass and violet and some subtle juniper touches. Impressions of cinnamon, raisin, roasted peanut, and rose emerged in the mouth along with stronger pine, orange zest, violet, red apple, pear, chocolate, and grass notes. New notes of minerals, lemon zest, juniper, butter, earth, apricot, menthol, and oats also appeared along with subtle impressions of brown sugar. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, butter, cream, malt, roasted peanut, orange zest, and lemon zest that were backed by hints of baked bread, brown sugar, earth, honey, menthol, and pine.

This was tremendously deep and complex for a Wuyi black tea. I also especially appreciated the harmonious interaction of the aroma and flavor components, the sharp, crisp mouthfeel of the tea liquor, and the tea’s longevity. In my opinion, there was not much of anything to dislike here. If you have had quality Wuyi black teas in the past, this one probably won’t surprise you in any way, but more importantly, it will not disappoint you in the least. All in all, this was just a really, really good Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Oats, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plums, Raisins, Red Apple, Rose, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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91

This was another recent sipdown of mine. I finished what I had of this tea a little earlier in the month, but I am not certain exactly when that was. Like most of the Dancong oolongs Yunnan Sourcing carries, this one was very good, great even. Prior to trying this tea, I recalled enjoying their spring 2016 Wu Dong Ba Xian greatly, but at the time, I had no real experience with Ba Xian and didn’t really know what to look for in one or what I should be trying to get out of the drinking experience. With a little more experience under my belt, I got more out of this tea and found it to be much more complex. There was, however, some nagging astringency toward the end of my review session that distracted me a bit, and I also found the tea’s most appealing characteristics to fade rather quickly.

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 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 orchid, magnolia, pomegranate, cherry, cream, vanilla, and orange zest. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of almond, spinach, sugarcane, pomelo, apple, and honey. The first infusion brought out aromas of baked bread and custard. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, vanilla, baked bread, sugarcane, pomegranate, apple, cherry, orchid, and pomelo that were chased by impressions of magnolia and hints of orange zest, almond, and spinach. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of pear, plum, wood, grass, jasmine, lychee, peach, orange blossom, and green bell pepper. Notes of pear, grass, plum, wood, lychee, minerals, white grape, peach, orange blossom, and green bell pepper came out in the mouth alongside stronger and more immediate notes of almond, orange zest, and spinach, pleasant honey notes, and hints of custard and jasmine. Once the tea started to fade, the liquor settled and began emphasizing notes of minerals, grass, apple, almond, green bell pepper, cream, wood, pear, orange zest, and white grape that were underscored by hints of spinach, vanilla, baked bread, cherry, honey, and pomegranate. As mentioned above, a noticeable astringency also came out around this time.

There was a lot to like about this tea, but the astringency that kept coming out once it started to settle and fade really bothered me for some reason. It just seemed so distracting. Still, it did not come close to sinking the drinking experience for me, and one should always expect some astringency and/or bitterness with Dancong oolongs anyway. Had this tea carried some of its absolutely gorgeous floral notes into the later infusions and had the astringency not gotten to me, I would have had no issue assigning this tea a score of 95 or higher, but unfortunately, neither of those things happened. Just to be clear, though, this was still a more or less excellent Dancong oolong.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, Cherry, Citrus, Cream, Custard, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Honey, Jasmine, Lychee, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Plums, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, White Grapes, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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83

This was another of last week’s sipdowns. This was also a tea I had no clue whether or not I’d like. For the most part, I am not a fan of flavored/scented oolongs, but I do love Taiwanese Si Ji Chun oolongs, and I am also a huge fan of Earl Grey. Still, I had no clue what to expect from this tea. I assumed it would either be really good or really bad. Luckily for me, I found it to be a more or less very good offering. It wasn’t perfect; however, it was very enjoyable.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of dry tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 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, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of cream, vanilla, custard, honeysuckle, lemon zest, and bergamot. After the rinse, I detected a stronger bergamot aroma as well as scents of butter and slight scents of orchid. The first infusion brought out aromas of grass and baked bread as well as slight scents of violet and jasmine. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of lemon zest, grass, bergamot, violet, cream, vanilla, and honeysuckle that were chased by hints of baked bread, butter, and spinach. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of lime and spinach. There were also some hints of umami on the nose. Stronger and more immediate notes of baked bread, butter, and spinach appeared in the mouth alongside notes of orchid and custard as well as hints of jasmine. Mineral, umami, lime, pear, honey, and green apple notes emerged, and I also picked up hints of seaweed. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering mineral, cream, bergamot, butter, lime, lemon zest and grass notes that were balanced by umami, spinach, seaweed, custard, honey, vanilla, pear, and baked bread hints.

Ultimately, this tea did not end up being anything too crazy, and for that, I was very grateful. The bergamot actually worked with the oolong, emphasizing the citrus and flower aromas and flavors one would expect to find in a green Si Ji Chun while also adding some sharpness and some complimentary notes that one would otherwise not expect to find. Though I thought the bergamot oil could have been dialed back just a bit, this was a still a very good, very enjoyable tea, one that Earl Grey fans and haters alike could probably get behind.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Bergamot, Butter, Cream, Custard, Grass, Green Apple, Honey, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Lemon Zest, Lime, Mineral, Orchid, Pear, Seaweed, Spinach, Umami, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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75

I feel like I have been away from Steepster for way too long. Fortunately, I have not been drinking a ton of different teas as I have been focused on finishing some of teas of which I purchased larger amounts. This was one of my more recent sipdowns; I think I finished what I had of this tea last week. Though I tend to greatly enjoy Nepalese black teas, I have yet to find a Nepalese golden tip black tea that absolutely captivates me. Clearly, this one did not do that.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. At least a couple people had suggested that I try to gongfu either a Nepalese black tea or a Darjeeling black tea, and I finally decided to give it a shot. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased 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 tea leaves produced aromas of malt, baked bread, chocolate, honey, and sweet potato. After the rinse, I picked up aromas of roasted almond, brown sugar, violet, and banana. The first infusion introduced aromas of rose, orange zest, roasted peanut, and raisin. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, sweet potato, brown sugar, banana, and roasted almond that were backed by hints of rose, honey, chocolate, and orange zest. The subsequent infusions saw the previously mentioned floral aromas become more dominant on the nose, while new aromas of lemon zest and pine also made themselves known. The tea liquor presented much stronger and more immediate notes of rose, honey, chocolate, and orange zest. Baked bread, raisin, and violet notes belatedly emerged, and new impressions of minerals, pine, molasses, caramel, cream, earth, and lemon zest also appeared. I even managed to pick out some hints of roasted peanut, plum, juniper, raspberry, and black cherry. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, cream, caramel, pine, malt, and earth notes that were balanced by more delicate impressions of raisin, baked bread, brown sugar, honey, sweet potato, and orange zest.

This black tea displayed some lovely aromas and flavors, but I found it to fade rather quickly. Many of its most appealing characteristics also displayed a tendency to blend together, creating a muddled rush of flavors in the mouth and thus a drinking experience frequently lacking in dynamism. All of this being said, this tea did display a lovely body and great texture in the mouth and had enough to offer in the flavor department to be satisfying. Furthermore, its energy was just right as it was neither too weak nor too strong. Overall, I found this tea to be more or less solid. I have had better teas of this type, but I would be willing to try a future production of this one (if one were to ever be offered) and would not caution others to avoid it. In the end, a score of 75 feels about right to me.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, banana, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cherry, Chocolate, Cream, Earth, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Plums, Raisins, Raspberry, Rose, Sweet Potatoes, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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88

This was the second of my sipdowns for the current month and a tea that I had been meaning to get around to reviewing for some time. I’ve long been interested in some of the more experimental teas coming out of India and Nepal, and I was really curious about what this tea had to offer. I expected it to be at least somewhat different from the other Darjeeling oolongs I had tried, but what I did not count on was just how unique it would turn out to be. I also found myself enjoying it way more than I expected I would.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose leaf and bud mix in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased 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 and bud mix produced aromas of autumn leaves, pine, malt, almond, and smoke. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of peanut, grass, hay, and rose as well as something along the lines of turnip greens. The first infusion brought out aromas of cream, butter, spinach, and green bell pepper. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of autumn leaves, pine, malt, rose, hay, grass, almond, butter, and pear that were backed by hints of smoke, peanut, green bell pepper, cream, and white grape. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of apple, pear, dandelion, orange zest, and apricot. Stronger and more immediate notes of green bell pepper and cream appeared in the mouth along with hints of spinach, dandelion greens, and turnip greens. I also picked up notes of minerals, dandelion, walnut, apricot, apple, peach, orange zest, and marigold. I noticed the liquor turned more astringent too, especially on each swallow. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, apple, pear, almond, grass, autumn leaves, green bell pepper, and dandelion that were backed by hints of cream, apricot, peach, rose, and malt.

An odd and interesting Darjeeling oolong that capably balanced vegetal, nutty, and woody characteristics and warmer, more welcoming floral and fruity characteristics, I could see fans of very balanced yet quirky teas being into this offering. It was a challenging and unpredictable tea, but it was never inaccessible. That’s a hard balance to pull off, especially with a more experimental offering. This one is definitely worth a shot if you are into some of the oolongs coming out of India these days.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Apricot, Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Butter, Cream, Dandelion, Floral, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Rose, Smoke, Spinach, Vegetal, Walnut, White Grapes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

This was the first of current month’s sipdowns. I wanted to start February off with something a little different, so I went through my What-Cha hoard, found this tea, decided that it had been far too long since I had reviewed an oolong from Nepal, and then immediately tore into it. I found it to be a near excellent Nepalese oolong, though I found the body and texture to be lacking at times.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 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 hay, malt, chocolate, roasted almond, raisin, and prune. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut, wood, brown sugar, and blackberry that were accompanied by subtle touches of tobacco and cannabis. The first infusion introduced aromas of anise, violet, candied orange, Muscatel, and honey. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented me with notes of honey, malt, roasted almond, cream, prune, raisin, and wood that were chased by hints of brown sugar, tobacco, chocolate, Muscatel, and butter. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of rose, cherry, celery, plum, orange blossom, butter, cream, and vanilla that were accompanied by some smoky accents. Hints of hay, cannabis, roasted peanut, blueberry, and anise came out in the mouth along with belatedly emerging notes of candied orange and violet. I also picked up some hints of smoke, black raspberry, and popcorn as well as more dominant impressions of minerals, nutmeg, rose, vanilla, orange blossom, cinnamon, cherry, plum, and celery. As the liquor faded, I primarily detected notes of minerals, malt, wood, cream, roasted almond, and vanilla as well as stronger roasted peanut and hay impressions. There were also some fleeting hints of Muscatel, tobacco, cherry, plum, black raspberry, raisin, popcorn, nutmeg, and butter lingering in the background.

This was a strong and incredibly complex Nepalese oolong with a gorgeous mix of aroma and flavor components. I just wish that the body had not struck me as being so thin and the texture of the tea liquor had not seemed so lifeless in many places. One of the greatest things about Nepalese teas is the little bit of sharpness their liquors display, but I did not get much of that with this tea, and quite frankly, I found myself missing it greatly. I, however, did not miss that characteristic enough to score this tea less than 90. It was still a fascinating tea with a tremendous amount to offer, so I could not justify abstaining from giving it a high rating. If you are looking for an incredibly complex and satisfying Nepalese oolong and do not mind a couple slight imperfections, then this would be a tea for you to try.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Butter, Candy, Cannabis, Celery, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Dried Fruit, Hay, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Nutmeg, Orange, Orange Blossom, Peanut, Plums, Popcorn, Raisins, Raspberry, Roasted, Rose, Smoke, Tobacco, Vanilla, Violet, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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86

This was one of a couple tea reviews from the fall of 2018 that I needed to post here. I finished a sample pouch of this tea back in November, but I unfortunately did not get around to posting it here on Steepster before the end of the year. Prior to trying this tea, I had never tried a Wuyi white tea. In terms of appearance, the tea looked very similar to a traditional Bai Mudan, and the similarities did not end there. The aroma and flavor profiles of this tea also displayed some marked similarities to a Bai Mudan, though this tea displayed the expected Wuyi minerality and was much heavier, livelier, and more energizing.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of the loose bud and leaf mix in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry leaf and bud mix emitted aromas of pine, smoke, cedar, and hay. After the rinse, I detected an aroma of roasted peanut that was accompanied by hints of honey. The first infusion introduced aromas of toasted rice and char. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of smoke, hay, pine, cedar, and toasted rice that were balanced by impressions of char, roasted peanut, and roasted barley. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of malt, autumn leaves, and roasted almond. New impressions of malt, minerals, caramel, cream, autumn leaves, and roasted almond appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging honey notes and hints of mushroom and birch bark. As the tea faded, the tea liquor emphasized lingering mineral, malt, roasted almond, roasted peanut, caramel, and hay notes that were balanced by subtler impressions of cream, mushroom, autumn leaves, and cedar.

This was a very interesting and potent white tea that was full of the nut, grain, wood, and mineral notes so typical of Wuyi teas. It definitely showed off the influence of its terroir as it captured the qualities that make Wuyi teas so unique and treasured. That being said, I felt that it was missing some subtlety and could also have used a little additional sweetness or some sort of floral component to balance out all of the heavier notes. To be clear, this was a very good white tea, but I felt that it was missing a few elements that would have made it even better. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for other white teas from Old Ways Tea, though, as this first stab at white tea production indicates to me that their partners have the potential to produce some truly excellent white teas after this one.

Flavors: Almond, Autumn Leaf Pile, Bark, Caramel, Cedar, Char, Cream, Hay, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Mushrooms, Peanut, Pine, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Toasted Rice

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 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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