876 Tasting Notes

97

Here is one of my sipdowns from around the start of August. I’m not sure why I have been holding off on posting this one so long, as it was one of the best and most memorable teas I have tried in the last four months. I know Yunnan Sourcing’s Dancong oolongs can be a bit hit or miss, but this was seriously one of the best I have tried from them.

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

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of peach, plum, orchid, pomegranate, honey, sugarcane, and vanilla that were underscored by hints of sweet potato. After the rinse, a little more sweet potato came out on the nose alongside aromas of butter and cream. The first infusion introduced aromas of grass, spinach, and roasted almond. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, roasted almond, honey, orchid, and peach that were chased by hints of grass, sugarcane, vanilla, sweet potato, and pomegranate. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of orange zest, cinnamon, iris, brown sugar, wood, steamed milk, earth, violet, basil, and baked bread. Stronger and more immediate notes of sweet potato, grass, pomegranate, and vanilla came out in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, earth, wood, sour cherry, brown sugar, baked bread, steamed milk, plum, cinnamon, cucumber, watermelon rind, orange zest, coriander, apricot, violet, and pear. I also noted hints of spinach and basil. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, grass, watermelon rind, plum, wood, steamed milk, and sour cherry notes that were balanced by subtler impressions of earth, spinach, brown sugar, cucumber, baked bread, plum, pear, butter, violet, and orchid.

This was a ridiculously complex and layered tea that was also a ton of fun to drink. It made me wish that all of Yunnan Sourcing’s Dancong offerings were similarly enjoyable, but unfortunately, that is not the case. Fans of Dancong oolongs who are looking for something a little fancier and a little more challenging would do well to check out an offering like this one.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Earth, Fruity, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Melon, Milk, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peach, Pear, Plums, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Violet, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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85

This was one of my more recent sipdowns, as I finished what I had of this tea a little earlier in the month. I often start craving stronger, maltier black teas and heavier roasted oolongs this time of year, and around the start of the month, I found myself in a position where I felt like I needed to drink some Assam black tea. I had a couple long work days at that time and plowed through what I had of this tea to keep me going. This tea probably deserved gentler, more considerate treatment than I gave it, but I was still able to get some good notes out of it. Overall, I found it to be a very nice Assam black tea.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped approximately 3 grams of loose tea buds in 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. I did not rinse the leaf buds prior to steeping nor did I attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf buds emitted aromas of malt, cinnamon, molasses, tobacco, and honey. After infusion, I detected aromas of cream, brown toast, roasted walnut, and roasted chestnut that were accompanied by a very subtle straw scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of wood, malt, cream, cinnamon, honey, brown toast, molasses, cocoa, straw, smoke, orange zest, lemon rind, roasted walnut, hickory, and roasted chestnut that were accompanied by hints of grass, brown sugar, nutmeg, vanilla, earth, and tobacco. The finish was brisk, woody, and astringent, though some nice malt, cream, brown toast, roasted nut, straw, and molasses notes could still be detected.

This was a very good, very energizing Assam black tea. It was a little astringent for me, especially on the finish, but it was still most certainly an enjoyable, high quality offering. Fans of Assam teas would very likely be pleased with it.

Flavors: Astringent, Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Chestnut, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Grass, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Molasses, Nutmeg, Nutty, Orange Zest, Smoke, Straw, Tobacco, Vanilla, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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72

This was another of my July sipdowns. I recall finishing my sample pouch of this tea (generously provided at no cost to me by AprTea in exchange for this review) immediately after finishing the last of the Xi Hu Long Jing that I received from AprTea. Of the two, this was the weaker offering in my eyes, but I should also note that I am not and have never been the biggest fan of Jiangsu Biluochun. They always seem delicate and pleasant but lacking in staying power to me.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 14 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, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of sweet corn, hay, sugarcane, grass, and pineapple. After the rinse, new aromas of asparagus, zucchini, malt, and straw appeared. The first infusion introduced a slight honey scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of sweet corn, hay, malt, straw, grass, and zucchini that were balanced by hints of sugarcane, cream, butter, soybean, and vegetable broth-like umami. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of plum, seaweed, butter, umami, peas, parsley, and grilled lemon. Stronger and more immediate butter, umami, soybean, and cream notes appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging asparagus notes and impressions of minerals, seaweed, spinach, kale, and parsley. I also detected delicate hints of grilled lemon, plum, garden peas, honey, and pineapple. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, grass, hay, butter, sweet corn, umami, and malt notes that were underscored by hints of garden peas, grilled lemon, sugarcane, straw, zucchini, and seaweed.

Like the comparatively few other Jiangsu Biluochun green teas I have tried, this one was pleasant, but it did not strike me as being all that distinctive. Had I not written detailed notes so that I could post this review, I likely would have forgotten that I had ever tried this tea. That’s not really a knock on it specifically; I’m just not a huge fan of this type of green tea. At this point, all I can say is that I did not find this tea to be bad, and I am certainly glad I got the opportunity to try it, but it wasn’t for me. I guess Jiangsu Biluochun is just something on which I’m not likely to come around anytime soon.

Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Cream, Garden Peas, Grass, Hay, Honey, Kale, Lemon, Malt, Mineral, Parsley, Pineapple, Plums, Seaweed, Soybean, Spinach, Straw, Sugarcane, Sweet, Umami, Zucchini

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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95

This was one of my sipdowns from July. I think I’ve only got three or four more teas from that month to post once I get this review up for the world to see. To this point, this is my favorite of the 2018 Old Ways Tea black teas I have tried. It was a very sweet, fruity black tea, and even though such teas are not often my favorites, I found this one to be exceptional.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 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 produced aromas of baked bread, cream, butter, strawberry, blueberry, and tangerine. After the rinse, new aromas of roasted almond, nectarine, and blackberry emerged. The first infusion brought out aromas of pear, plum, roasted peanut, and malt. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of roasted almond, malt, strawberry, nectarine, plum, roasted peanut, cream, and tangerine that were balanced by hints of blackberry, black cherry, blueberry, butter, peach, pear, and guava. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of orange zest, wood, straw, vanilla, and guava as well as a subtler scent of sweet potato. Slightly stronger and more immediate notes of blueberry, butter, guava, black cherry, pear, and peach appeared as did impressions of roasted peanut and baked bread. I detected new notes of minerals, orange zest, sweet potato, wood, and straw that were accompanied by hints of pineapple and vanilla. There was also an herbal, slightly cooling quality on each swallow that I could never manage to place. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, wood, malt, baked bread, and roasted almond notes that were balanced by peach, plum, pear, strawberry, orange zest, blackberry, tangerine, and black cherry hints.

This was an amazingly aromatic and flavorful Wuyi black tea with a ton to offer both casual and experienced drinkers alike. Despite its fruity sweetness, the tea liquor never came off as syrupy in the mouth, instead maintaining a strong, firm texture throughout my drinking session. There was also just enough balance provided by the tea’s other characteristics to keep the fruit aromas and flavors from being overwhelming and throwing everything out of whack. Fans of Wuyi black teas would undoubtedly enjoy this offering, but I think black tea fans who are used to sweeter teas and looking for a good entry into the world of Wuyi black tea would also be well served to check out this tea or one like it.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Cherry, Citrus, Cream, Guava, Herbaceous, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pineapple, Plums, Stonefruits, Straw, Strawberry, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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92

Alrighty, I’m back with a new series of reviews. This one, like virtually every other review I have posted lately, comes from my backlog. To be a little more specific, this was one of my sipdowns from October, a month in which I didn’t really drink a ton of tea. This also seems to be a tea that only I liked. Yunnan Sourcing’s Bai Ji Guan seems to draw mixed reviews here on Steepster, but I seem to be the person who consistently likes it from year to year. I enjoyed this one greatly.

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 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 13 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves presented aromas of mushroom, hay, grass, golden raisin, and cedar. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted carrot, roasted almond, rose, custard, dandelion, and longan. The first infusion introduced aromas of spinach, turnip greens, and burdock. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of hay, grass, dandelion, cream, rose, butter, longan, custard, golden raisin, roasted almond, and roasted carrot that were chased by hints of turnip greens, spinach, and burdock. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of Asian pear, apricot, roasted chestnut, orange zest, baked bread, plum, and coriander. Stronger and somewhat more immediate notes of turnip greens, burdock, and spinach appeared as did belatedly emerging cedar and mushroom notes. New impressions of minerals, straw, roasted chestnut, apricot, Asian pear, vanilla, baked bread, dandelion greens, plum, orange zest, apple, honey, coriander, and lemon zest also appeared alongside brothy umami notes. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized mineral, hay, grass, roasted carrot, orange zest, umami, roasted almond, turnip green, and spinach notes that were balanced by hints of longan, lemon zest, mushroom, Asian pear, honey, cream, butter, coriander, and roasted chestnut.

This was a very interesting and complex tea, but it was also very approachable and drinkable. I found the texture of this offering’s liquor to be firmer and more defined than that of the spring 2016 offering. I know I have said it before, but I enjoyed this tea greatly. It should once again be noted, however, that my takes on Yunnan Sourcing’s Bai Ji Guan seem to be very different and consistently more positive than those of the majority of other reviewers, so any interested parties might want to take my high recommendation of this tea with a large grain of salt.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Carrot, Cedar, Chestnut, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Dandelion, Fruity, Grass, Hay, Honey, Lemon Zest, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Zest, Pear, Plums, Raisins, Rose, Spinach, Straw, Umami, Vanilla, Vegetal

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

This was another of my sipdowns from late July. At the time I finished this tea, it had been a considerable amount of time since I had reviewed a Dragon Well green tea. When I was first getting into Chinese green tea, Dragon Well was one of the first teas that really spoke to me, so I was very happy to get the opportunity to revisit one of my first loves in the wide world of green tea. As it turned out, I still love Dragon Well and found this one to be very enjoyable. I was rather surprised by the scores provided by the two previous reviewers.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 14 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, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of sweetgrass, chestnut, green olive, honey, hay, sugarcane, and bamboo. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of zucchini, lettuce, and cucumber as well as a greatly amplified chestnut aroma and a subtle scent of malt. The first infusion introduced a subtle spinach scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of bamboo, chestnut, malt, hay, and sweetgrass alongside a surprisingly strong, pronounced umami note. Hints of spinach, zucchini, lettuce, green olive, honey, and sugarcane could also be detected. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of butter and asparagus as well as a very meaty, salty umami scent. Notes of cucumber appeared in the mouth alongside stronger and more immediate zucchini, spinach, sugarcane, and lettuce notes. I also detected mineral, butter, asparagus, lemon zest, and snap pea impressions. Some fleeting hints of squash blossom, apricot, and honeydew could also be detected, though they were most evident on the swallow and in the aftertaste. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized impressions of minerals, malt, hay, butter, bamboo, asparagus, and umami that were chased by hints of sweetgrass, chestnut, sugarcane, lemon zest, lettuce, and spinach.

At first, I did not really know how to rate this tea. It was enjoyable, but its liquor was also thicker and more substantial than that of many other Dragon Well teas I have tried. Part of me doubted that this was a higher end Dragon Well, but an examination of the leaves showed me that it was produced from a quality picking and clearly processed with great care. This tea was obviously a quality offering. Ultimately, I felt I had to give it a high score. It was just too satisfying. Everything worked together more or less seamlessly, so there was no reason to knock it.

Flavors: Apricot, Asparagus, Bamboo, Butter, Chestnut, Cucumber, Grass, Hay, Honey, Honeydew, Lemon Zest, Lettuce, Malt, Mineral, Olives, Peas, Spinach, Squash Blossom, Sugarcane, Umami, Zucchini

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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95

This was one of my sipdowns from July and a tea I received as a free sample with one of my numerous What-Cha orders. At the time, I was rather bummed to get it because I’m not particularly well-equipped to review Japanese green teas. I don’t own any Japanese brewing gear and have long had neither the money nor the desire to invest in any. I figure there is no point in trying to do so when I drink Japanese green teas so rarely. For whatever reason, I just don’t purchase them very often. Receiving this tea presented me with a dilemma. I wanted to give it a shot, yet I didn’t own anything appropriate in which to prepare it. What did I do? Well, I ended up breaking out one of my standard tea mugs, a mesh strainer, and a tea coaster in an effort to mimic brewing in a kyusu or something similar. It’s what I have done with most Japanese green teas to this point, and I also tend to use this approach for any Korean teas I end up purchasing. This approach has worked well in the past, and quite frankly, it worked far better for this tea than I ever would have imagined.

With regard to my specific preparation method, I started off by measuring out 3-4 grams of loose tea leaves and steeping them in approximately 8 ounces of 158 F water for 30 seconds. Note that I did not rinse the leaves prior to infusion. This infusion was followed by 4 additional infusions. For the second infusion, I increased the water temperature to 163 F and steeped the leaves for 45 seconds. The third infusion lasted 1 minute, and the water temperature was increased to 168 F. The fourth infusion lasted 1 minute 30 seconds, and the water temperature was set at 173 F. For the fifth and final infusion, I increased the water temperature to 178 F and steeped the leaves for 3 minutes.

Prior to the first infusion, the dry tea leaves presented aromas of seaweed, spinach, cucumber, butter, zucchini, and grass. After infusion, I noted new aromas of asparagus, honey, and sweet corn. In the mouth, the tea liquor revealed delicate butter, cream, spinach, grass, zucchini, seaweed, cucumber, asparagus, and salty, brothy umami notes that were balanced by subtle hints of vanilla, lightly roasted barley, earth, honey, steamed rice, and minerals. The second infusion saw an umami presence come out on the nose, while new aromas of steamed rice, lettuce, summer squash, and lightly roasted barley also made themselves known. Stronger honey, roasted barley, earth, and mineral notes appeared in the mouth alongside even more amplified butter, cream, seaweed, grass, spinach, cucumber, zucchini, and umami impressions. New notes of summer squash, baked bread, lettuce, and oats also appeared alongside belatedly emerging impressions of sweet corn. I was even able to pick up on some hints of sugarcane, fennel, and spearmint. The third infusion saw aromas of oats, baked bread, and hay emerge along with a subtle fennel scent and stronger umami, seaweed, and grass aromas. Slightly more amplified earth and mineral impressions appeared in the mouth while notes of seaweed, grass, fennel, umami, cucumber, and zucchini continued to build. New impressions of hay and sea salt emerged along with a slightly enhanced sugarcane presence and hints of lemon. The fourth infusion saw the tea’s bouquet start to decline. The tea liquor turned very grassy and vegetal with pronounced earth, umami, and seaweed notes and a slightly enhanced sea salt presence. The final infusion saw the tea’s bouquet turn very clean. It was heavy on mineral aromas, though I could also pick up on some umami, grass, earth, lemon, and sea salt scents. The tea liquor was soft and smooth in the mouth despite pronounced mineral and umami characters. Softer, subtler notes of grass, lemon, and sea salt could still be detected along with fleeting hints of spinach, seaweed, and sugarcane.

This was one of the more challenging green teas I have consumed and reviewed this year, but it was also one of the most enjoyable. I do not pretend to be anything close to an expert on sencha (or anything else really), but this one struck me as being an exceptional offering. This tea displayed tremendous character both on the nose and in the mouth. The tea liquor had tremendous body and texture as well. Quite simply, there was so much to love about this tea. With as much as I enjoyed this one, I should probably start trying some of the other Japanese green teas offered by What-Cha in the near future.

Flavors: Asparagus, Asparagus, Baked Bread, Baked Bread, Butter, Butter, Cream, Cream, Cucumber, Cucumber, Earth, Earth, Fennel, Fennel, Grass, Grass, Hay, Hay, Honey, Honey, Lemon, Lemon, Lettuce, Lettuce, Mineral, Mineral, Oats, Oats, Rice, Rice, Roasted Barley, Roasted Barley, Salt, Salt, Seaweed, Seaweed, Spearmint, Spearmint, Spinach, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sugarcane, Sweet, Sweet, Umami, Umami, Vanilla, Vanilla, Vegetal, Vegetal, Zucchini, Zucchini

Preparation
0 min, 30 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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93

Okay, here’s my final review for the day. Hopefully, I’l l get to do this again in the near future. Of the Yunnan Sourcing Dancong oolongs I have tried recently, this was one of the best. It seems that I always either adore or feel pretty meh about Yunnan Sourcing’s Dancong offerings, but this one fell firmly in the former camp rather than the latter. I wasn’t expecting to feel as strongly about it as I did either since I had a little trouble with the spring 2016 version of this tea (I still liked it quite a bit though).

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 chased 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 produced aromas of cream, custard, orange blossom, sugarcane, vanilla, and tangerine. After the rinse, I was able to pick out new aromas of roasted almond, grass, sour cherry, peach, and pomegranate. The first infusion introduced aromas of orchid, caraway, and coriander as well as a subtle geranium scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of cream, custard, roasted almond, vanilla, orange blossom, and tangerine that were balanced by hints of grass, geranium, caraway, sour cherry, peach, and coriander. The subsequent infusions coaxed out stronger geranium scents and new aromas of plum, candied pomelo, pineapple, dandelion, and violet. I also picked up on subtle parsley and watercress scents. Stronger and more immediate sour cherry, coriander, and peach notes emerged in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging orchid notes and impressions of dandelion, plum, candied pomelo, minerals, violet, and pear. I also noted hints of sugarcane, pineapple, butter, watercress, and parsley. As the tea faded, the liquor increasingly emphasized notes of minerals, roasted almond, cream, grass, and coriander that were balanced by sour cherry, candied pomelo, peach, tangerine, butter, watercress, violet, vanilla, and sugarcane hints.

Compared to some of the other Dancong oolongs I have tried recently, this one displayed greater balance, integration, and sophistication. It had some amazingly charming and exotic qualities that grew increasingly difficult to pin down as my drinking session progressed. If all of Yunnan Sourcing’s Dancong oolongs were this likable, I would probably not purchase such teas from other vendors.

Flavors: Almond, Butter, Candy, Cherry, Citrus, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Dandelion, Fruity, Geranium, Grass, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Parsley, Peach, Pear, Pineapple, Plums, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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88

Let’s post a more positive review, shall we? This was one of my sipdowns from July. I had a couple sample pouches of this tea, both of which I received free with two different orders from Old Ways Tea. I finished one during the second half of the month and ended up putting the other in storage. I’ll probably drink it sometime next year to see how much greater aging will affect it. Though this tea was labeled as a Da Hong Pao, it was actually a Rou Gui, albeit a Rou Gui that was given a roast intended to mimic the qualities of some of the more floral Da Hong Pao blends. This treatment worked quite well for this tea, as I would never have been able to tell that it was 100% Rou Gui without reading the product description in advance.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were: 8 seconds, 10 seconds, 13 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, rock sugar, pine, smoke, char, ginger, and orchid. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond and roasted peanut that were accompanied by stronger cinnamon, char, and smoke scents. The first infusion brought out aromas of black cherry, strawberry, and blackberry alongside a more amplified ginger scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cinnamon, pine, ginger, orchid, smoke, char, rock sugar, roasted peanut, blackberry, and black cherry that were balanced by hints of roasted almond, black raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, and red apple. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of blueberry, red apple, Asian pear, and black raspberry that were accompanied by subtle grass and cannabis scents. Notes of tobacco, minerals, cannabis, grass, nutmeg, rose, butter, baked bread, and cream appeared in the mouth alongside hints of cocoa, orange zest, roasted walnut, and Asian pear. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, pine, char, roasted peanut, grass, and cream notes that were underscored by hints of butter, smoke, roasted almond, roasted walnut, baked bread, tobacco, black cherry, cannabis, cocoa, and rock sugar.

This was both a very interesting and satisfying Wuyi oolong. I’m curious to see whether or not additional aging will bring out any new aromas and flavors or soften some of the tea’s rougher edges. Regardless of how it holds up down the road, this was a very good tea at the time I tried it. It was clearly coming into its own, perhaps even peaking. Fans of Da Hong Pao and some of the heavier roasted Wuyi oolongs would probably get a lot out of it.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Butter, Cannabis, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Ginger, Grass, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Raspberry, Red Apple, Roasted, Rose, Smoke, Strawberry, Sugar, Tobacco, Walnut

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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59

This was my final sipdown of October and another tea that I am struggling to rate numerically. It didn’t leave much of an impression on me, and the little bit I recall about it doesn’t leave me with particularly positive feelings. I think I found this to be a pretty awkward and unappealing Dancong oolong.

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

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of pomelo, cherry, butter, orange blossom, peach, and plum. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of honey, sugarcane, and tangerine that were accompanied by a subtle grassy scent. The first infusion introduced aromas of white grape, violet, and orchid. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of pomelo, cherry, butter, sugarcane, orange blossom, tangerine, and honey that were chased by hints of white grape, violet, peach, plum, grass, wood, and pomegranate. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of pomegranate, turnip greens, coriander, lychee, basil, and collard greens. Stronger and more immediate wood, white grape, pomegranate, grass, and plum notes appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging orchid hints and new impressions of minerals, turnip greens, coriander, spinach, collard greens, pear, lychee, basil, and honeydew rind. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized notes of minerals, grass, spinach, coriander, wood, and honeydew rind that were balanced by hints of basil, turnip greens, sugarcane, violet, white grape, lychee, pomelo, and pomegranate.

The more I think about it, the more I come away with the impression that this was a very strange and awkward tea that had some rough edges that really irked me. It was a bit astringent in the mouth, and some of those vegetal notes came through in ways that struck me as being distinctly unpleasant. The nicely textured tea liquor and pleasant, clear flower and fruit notes kept it from being a total wash, but this tea did not make much of a positive impression on me. I found it to be a mixed bag with slightly more good than bad. A score just below 60 feels about right to me, at least for now.

Flavors: Butter, Cherry, Citrus, Coriander, Fruity, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeydew, Lychee, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Peach, Plums, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vegetal, Violet, White Grapes, Wood

Preparation
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.

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