882 Tasting Notes

90

This is another old review that has been sitting around unposted since either November or December. At the time I was working on this one, I only had a mini sample of this tea to work with, but I have since acquired a larger amount, so I will very likely be posting an updated review of this tea at some point in the next few months. My first impression of it was very good. I was obviously a huge fan of What-Cha’s previous Guranse offering, so my expectations of this tea were high, and fortunately for me, it did not disappoint.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped approximately 3 grams of loose leaf material in about 8 ounces of 195 F water for 5 minutes. I did not rinse the leaf material prior to infusion, and I did not attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of pine, straw, hay, peanut, grass, chrysanthemum, dandelion, and rose. After infusion, new aromas of malt, butter, cream, apricot, toast, plum, orange blossom, and green bell pepper were apparent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, hay, straw, pine, grass, cream, butter, rose, toast, dandelion, apricot, pear, plum, orange blossom, chrysanthemum, violet, green apple, white grape, peanut, chestnut, hazelnut, lemon zest, and green bell pepper. The finish blended floral, vegetal, and nutty characteristics with subtle maltiness, mellow notes of butter and cream, clear and distinct impressions of lemon zest, white grape, green pine, and pear, moderate astringency, and some lingering apricot and plum hints that were most apparent after each swallow.

Overall, I found this to be a very nice Nepalese black tea. The liquor was a bit thinner than the previous Guranse offering that I tried, but that was ultimately a minor quibble. This was still a very complex, pleasant, and balanced tea. Fans of Nepalese black teas should get a lot out of it.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Butter, Chestnut, Cream, Dandelion, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Hazelnut, Lemon Zest, Malt, Orange Blossom, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plums, Rose, Straw, Toast, Violet, White Grapes

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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93

Okay, I guess I’m back on Steepster for now. It seems like I never get time to post any reviews anymore. I’m reaching into the backlog with this one, as this was a tea I finished sometime back around November. I enjoyed this tea greatly, more so than the previous reviewer.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 19 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of baked bread, malt, chocolate, and butter as well as a subtle sweet potato scent. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond and spearmint that were coupled with a greatly amplified chocolate aroma and a subtle black raspberry scent. The first infusion brought out a roasted peanut scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of baked bread, sweet potato, butter, cream, brown sugar, roasted almond, and malt that were balanced by subtler impressions of chocolate, black raspberry, vanilla, and roasted peanut. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of raisin, oats, brown sugar, vanilla, black cherry, and black currant as well as a somewhat stronger black raspberry aroma and a subtle pine presence. Stronger and more immediately notable impressions of chocolate, vanilla, and black raspberry appeared in the mouth alongside mineral, oat, blackberry, black cherry, gooseberry, black currant, spearmint, and pine notes. I also picked up hints of fig, earth, blueberry, raisin, and honey. As the tea faded, the liquor amplified the raisin and earth notes, though impressions of minerals, baked bread, pine, malt, cream, and butter remained strong. Underlying hints of spearmint, roasted almond, vanilla, honey, black cherry, sweet potato, brown sugar, and chocolate continued to provide some depth, balance, and intrigue.

This was a very nice offering that came off as a refined hybrid of a Taiwanese Assam and a traditional Vietnamese black tea. I could see it pleasing fans of both types of tea. If you are looking for a new and experimental black tea, this would be one well worth trying.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Currant, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Chocolate, Cream, Earth, Fig, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Oats, Peanut, Pine, Raisins, Raspberry, Spearmint, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
derk

Glad to see your impression of this tea!

Martin Bednář

It osunds like a nice tea :) In wishlist, because of your review.

eastkyteaguy

Derk, thank you. I keep trying to get on here and write more, but my work schedule, health concerns, and consistent difficulty logging in to my account due to 503 errors make it almost impossible for me to do on many days. I also do not have internet access and no longer have cell service at home (which I’m trying to remedy today).

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91

This was one of my last sipdowns of 2019. I had been curious about this tea for some time, and after a conversation about the lifespan of teas in storage with a fellow Steepsterite in which this tea was mentioned as being one that didn’t hold up, I decided to break it out and give it a try. Leafhopper, I know I promised you I would post a review of this tea nearly a month ago or something like that. Sorry about the wait. Anyway, here are my thoughts on this tea’s vitality after nearly two years of storage: I could not tell that what I had of it had faded at all. It was a little more mellow than a super fresh Dancong oolong, but I could not pick up any signs of deterioration. As a matter of fact, I greatly enjoyed this tea. I found it to be a great Dancong oolong. I went into my review session expecting to end up kicking myself over waiting too long to try it, but by the time I wrapped the session up, all I could think about was how spectacular this tea struck me as being.

Now, with all of the above being said, I could very well be the outlier here. My experience may not reflect that of others in any way. To be sure, there will be differences in perception from person to person. The amounts of tea that different people will receive from the same batch may be of different quality. There will be differences in a tea’s lifespan in storage based on individual storage practices and differences in environment. Certain pouches of tea can even be sealed improperly, resulting in contamination and/or deterioration prior to shipment. So many things can happen that can lead different people to have totally differing opinions of the same tea, and that’s before you can consider things like differences in equipment used, water type and quality, brewing methods, the overall condition, attention span, and experience level of the person doing the tasting, etc. It’s very, very rare that two opinions will be identical, and it may very well not happen at all as every palate is different.

Anyway, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of rose, cream, butter, custard, pear, lychee, tangerine, and sugarcane. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond and grass. The first infusion saw the rose aroma intensify and a subtle coriander scent appear. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of rose, grass, butter, cream, and sugarcane that were balanced by subtler notes of lemon zest, cracked pepper, coriander, pear, custard, and green apple. The subsequent infusions teased out aromas of lemon zest, orange candy, cracked pepper, grapefruit, green apple, dandelion, basil, and baked bread. Stronger and more immediately apparent impressions of green apple, pear, coriander, lemon zest, and cracked pepper appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging lychee and tangerine notes and impressions of orange candy, minerals, dandelion, dandelion greens, and yellow plum. I also noted hints of basil, violet, baked bread, grapefruit, and roasted almond. Each swallow left a lingering herbal coolness and a pleasant aftertaste of rose and green apple. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, green apple, grass, pear, dandelion greens, lemon zest, coriander, cream, butter, and sugarcane as well as suddenly amplified impressions of roasted almond. Subtler notes of rose, dandelion, custard, tangerine, and basil lingered in the background.

This was a very challenging and unique tea, but it was also very enjoyable. It was very tightly layered and demonstrated a good deal of complexity. This tea also displayed a number of aroma and flavor components that I do not often get out of Dancong oolongs. Overall, I did not have a problem with this one, though I do have to admit that I think I may have gotten a bit lucky with it. Teas that are very tightly composed and have tons of little intricacies can produce a liquor that seems totally dead on the nose and in the mouth if you have recently had anything to eat or drink or if you are having any sort of sinus and allergy issues. I have chronic sinusitis and terrible seasonal allergies. I normally get infection after infection over the winter months, but I have been fortunate so far this winter and tried this tea on a warm, clear day when I was not having any issues and had not consumed anything else prior to my drinking session. I think that’s why I got as much out of this tea as I did. And who knows? I also may have gotten lucky with the amount of tea I had in the sense that it may have just held up better in storage for me. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing. But yeah, I did enjoy this tea and found it to be an excellent offering overall.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Candy, Citrus, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Dandelion, Grapefruit, Grass, Green Apple, Herbaceous, Lemon Zest, Lychee, Mineral, Orange, Pear, Pepper, Plums, Rose, Sugarcane, Vegetal, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

This was another of my recent sipdowns. It was also the most recent spring 2017 black tea to be finished by me. At this point, I only have one pouch of spring 2017 black tea left to finish, 100 grams of Yunnan Black Gold that I bought specifically to age. Anyway, this was an excellent Yunnan black tea. Like the others I have tried this month, the extended time in storage did not seem to have affected it much if at all.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of smoke, malt, cedar, pine, and molasses. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted peanut and roasted almond. The first infusion brought out a baked bread aroma as well as a subtle sugarcane scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of smoke, malt, cream, butter, baked bread, roasted almond, cedar, and pine that were chased by subtler notes of molasses, raisin, sugarcane, plum, and roasted peanut. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cream, butter, raisin, caramel, marshmallow, anise, vanilla, sweet cherry, chocolate, roasted pecan, and orange zest. Notes of minerals, caramel, anise, marshmallow, vanilla, sweet cherry, stewed apricot, chocolate, roasted pecan, and orange zest appeared in the mouth alongside hints of earth, camphor, and black pepper. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, cream, smoke, raisin, caramel, chocolate, and marshmallow that were balanced by hints of camphor, anise, sweet cherry, sugarcane, butter, roasted almond, and vanilla.

This was one of the more interesting Yunnan black teas I have tried. Generally, I expect Yunnan assamicas to be very assertive and robust in the mouth, but this tea was gentler and sweeter. Its age may have had something to do with that, but I think a good deal of it was just inherent. I also appreciated that I could immediately pick out the characteristics imparted by the Jinggu terroir. I have long felt that Jinggu teas have some very unique properties, specifically a pleasant and lively mouthfeel and fresh, earthy, uniquely sweet, and herbal aroma and flavor characteristics, and such properties were on clear display in this tea. Overall, I would recommend this tea or a more recent version of it to people who are established fans of Jinggu teas and/or those who are interested in getting a feel for the characteristics of the Jinggu terroir.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Apricot, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Cherry, Chocolate, Cream, Earth, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pecan, Pine, Plums, Raisins, Smoke, Sugarcane, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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92

This was another of my sipdowns from earlier in the month. I had always heard that higher end Yunnan black teas could hold up well in storage, and so far, I have found this to be the case. This tea, in particular, came out swinging. It was so lively and strong that it did not seem to have lost a step.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of malt, baked bread, honey, sugarcane, sweet potato, and molasses. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of camphor, cream, pine, butter, cinnamon, roasted almond, eucalyptus, and black pepper. The first infusion brought out scents of earth and straw alongside a subtle grassiness. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of malt, cream, butter, baked bread, roasted almond, sweet potato, and eucalyptus that were balanced by hints of honey, sugarcane, earth, camphor, black pepper, grass, and cooked green beans. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of marshmallow, juniper, cocoa, lemon, vanilla, and plum. Stronger and more immediate notes of camphor, black pepper, earth, grass, sugarcane, and cooked green beans appeared in the mouth. I also picked up impressions of minerals, juniper, caramel, cocoa, vanilla, lemon, birch bark, marshmallow, celery, pine, orange zest, molasses, and cinnamon. Subtler notes of anise, plum, and coriander were detected as well. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and emphasized mineral, earth, baked bread, malt, cream, butter, roasted almond, grass, and marshmallow notes that were supported by subtler impressions of sugarcane, caramel, lemon, cooked green beans, cocoa, and orange zest.

This was an extremely complex and challenging Yunnan black tea. The liquor had an explosive, highly energetic presence in the mouth despite this tea being just shy of three years old. I loved what I got out of my time with this tea, but I can say that I feel it would be a little too intense and overwhelming to be an everyday black tea, and it would also most certainly not be appropriate for a beginner or a more casual drinker. If you are a fan of Feng Qing Dian Hong and have quite a bit of experience with such teas, then you would probably love what this tea had to offer. If you are new to Feng Qing teas, or Yunnan black teas in general, you may want to get some experience under your belt before trying a tea like this one.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Baked Bread, Bark, Black Pepper, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Celery, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Coriander, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Grass, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Marshmallow, Molasses, Orange Zest, Pine, Plums, Straw, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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84

Yes, I am still alive and still capable of writing. I keep having to tell myself that. It seems that I get more pleasure out of reading the tasting notes of others and commenting on them these days than I do writing notes of my own. Anyway, I have been aware that I needed to get back to writing for a few weeks now, but I have honestly just been too lazy to do it. Now that I have spent a good deal of time finishing up some of my remaining 2017 teas, I figured that I could not let my backlog grow any further, so it was time to get some reviews out of the way. This was a tea that I forgot I had, and when I found it in my tea stash, I just had to start on it. It was a very nice, mellow black tea that somehow held up remarkably well in storage.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 5 seconds (my new kettle does not allow me to set 194 F as a temperature). This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of malt, cedar, baked bread, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and black pepper. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, cream, geranium, and butter. The first infusion brought out a slight camphor scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of cream, butter, malt, baked bread, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of roasted peanut, geranium, and cinnamon. The subsequent infusions introduced cocoa, smoke, sugarcane, tobacco, roasted walnut, marshmallow, and orange zest aromas as well as very subtle plum scents. Slightly stronger and more immediate roasted peanut and geranium impressions came out in the mouth alongside notes of sugarcane, cocoa, earth, minerals, black pepper, eucalyptus, straw, caramel, orange zest, roasted walnut, tobacco, and marshmallow. I also noted hints of smoke, cedar, camphor, red apple, plum, honey, and ginger. As the tea faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, earth, cream, malt, baked bread, and caramel that were supported by subtler notes of butter, roasted almond, roasted peanut, cocoa, tobacco, and orange zest.

This was an incredibly pleasant, aromatic, and flavorful Yunnan black tea. In truth, I am probably underrating it a bit, but a score in the mid-80s just felt right to me when I was drinking it, and it still feels right to me now. I have had better, stronger, and more challenging Yunnan black teas, but this one was so pleasant and so easy to drink in its maturity that I could not even dream of being disappointed by it. If you are looking to acquire a very good, very likable Yunnan black tea with your next Yunnan Sourcing order, strongly consider seeking out the newest harvest of the Bu Lang Mountain Black Tea from Menghai.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Geranium, Ginger, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Plums, Red Apple, Smoke, Straw, Sugarcane, Tobacco, Walnut

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Martin Bednář

Happy to see your tasting notes again. I completely undestand you that reading others is better than trying to write myself a tasting note. But maybe you should make the tasting notes shorter, or care less about all the flavours and aromas it brings on. Writing shorter tasting ontes, as I do for instance. But it is certianly you and your notes :)

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77

This was my last sipdown of 2019, a year I am so thankful to have put behind me. I am planning on making some big changes over the course of the new year. I say that every year but have already gotten to work on a couple things. Hey, at least I’m actively trying to make some progress for once and not perpetually getting bogged down in the planning stage. I am not at a point where I feel comfortable sharing any specifics here, but more details will likely follow over the next several months. Anyway, this was an odd and interesting tea. Of all the dancong oolongs I have tried over the last two or three years, I could not compare this one to any of them.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of lemon, kumquat, tangerine, sugarcane, cream, and butter. After the rinse, I picked up new aromas of roasted almond, geranium, and yellow gardenia. The first infusion introduced a plum aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor expressed notes of cream, butter, roasted almond, lemon, and grapefruit that were chased by hints of tangerine, geranium, sour cherry, and sugarcane. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of grapefruit, roasted peanut, grass, violet, wood, baked bread, and orange zest. Stronger and more immediate sugarcane, geranium, tangerine, and sour cherry notes came out in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging yellow gardenia and plum impressions, Notes of minerals, violet, roasted peanut, wood, orange zest, pear, baked bread, grass, and white grapes also appeared, and I was able to pick up hints of pomegranate, coffee, and kumquat as well. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, orange zest, butter, grass, lemon, baked bread, and tangerine notes that were underscored by lingering hints of cream, sugarcane, sour cherry, grapefruit, pear, kumquat, yellow gardenia, and roasted almond.

As you may have noticed from the above description, this struck me as being a very citrusy tea. Fortunately, it was not particularly astringent. The way this tea’s aroma and flavor components came together was challenging and truly bizarre, yet I do not recall anything striking me as being out of whack. Everything was actually balanced really nicely. Ultimately, I think I would just classify this as one of those teas that was not quite for me. The yellow gardenia (nothing like what most people would expect) and citrus characteristics were very interesting and satisfying, but I think I tend to prefer nuttier, sweeter Dancong oolongs over the tarter, more pungent styles. Still, I will definitely be trying more Huang Zhi Xiang in the future to get a better feel for it.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Butter, Cherry, Citrus, Coffee, Cream, Fruity, Gardenias, Geranium, Grapefruit, Grass, Lemon, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Plums, Sugarcane, Violet, White Grapes, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
tea-sipper

Wishing you luck on whatever changes you’re making.

MadHatterTeaDrunk

Good luck in your 2020 journey!
Also, this sounds like a fun tea to be had. I like teas that have such complexity and depth to the session.

mrmopar

What ever path you take you will always have your friends on here.

LuckyMe

Good luck to you in 2020 and the decade ahead.

ashmanra

May 2020 be awesome for you!

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71

Okay, I am kicking off another year of Steepster activity with a review of my first sipdown of the new year. This was the last of the Yunnan Sourcing black tea dragon balls I had lying around, and in truth, I put this one off for so long because I had every intention of making it one of my holiday teas. I’m a huge fan of rose teas and got it in my mind that it was going to be the tea with which I rang in the new year. Honestly, I probably should have picked something else considering that I had a sinus infection at the time and this was a rather delicate tea, but what’s done is done. I was still able to get a lot out of it, and while I would not call it a bad offering, it was not my favorite of Yunnan Sourcing’s black tea and flower dragon balls. That was surprising too, because, again, I love rose teas.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped the entire dragon ball in 160 ml of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cedar, cinnamon, eucalyptus, malt, and rose. After the rinse, I detected a stronger rose aroma and new scents of cream, butter, and baked bread. There was also a subtle vanilla scent lingering in the background. The first infusion brought out a somewhat stronger vanilla aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented very delicate notes of cedar, cinnamon, malt, cream, butter, and baked bread that were chased by hints of vanilla, eucalyptus, and rose. The subsequent infusions coaxed out aromas of sugarcane, cocoa, sweet potato, camphor, black pepper, ginger, roasted almond, and caramel as well as more amplified rose and malt scents. Stronger and more immediate rose, vanilla, and eucalyptus notes came out in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals, earth, black pepper, sugarcane, caramel, cocoa, camphor, red apple, honey, roasted almond, and cooked green beans. I also detected hints of red grape, grass, sweet potato, orange zest, and ginger. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, malt, baked bread, earth, cocoa, and roasted almond notes that were balanced by fleeting hints of rose, honey, sweet potato, caramel, black pepper, cooked green beans, cedar, camphor, and orange zest.

This seemed to be a fairly balanced offering overall. One thing I noticed about each of these black tea and flower dragon balls was that each of the floral presences interacted with the base tea in different ways, sometimes thinning or thickening the body of the tea liquor, muting or amplifying certain aroma and flavor components, influencing the time at which each characteristic emerged, and sometimes introducing something unexpected. I basically picked up the same characteristics from the base tea with only minor differences, but each pairing seemed to organize and present them differently. This pairing emphasized harmony and balance, but that being said, it also struck me as a little too even-keeled in many places. I was actually hoping for a heavier rose presence and a few interesting rough edges, but I got neither. One positive aspect of this pairing was that the rose petals seemed to thicken the body and bring out more texture in the tea liquor, which was something I did not expect to occur. Big Snow Mountain black tea seems to consistently strike me as being a bit thin and watery, but I could not make that complaint with this particular offering. Honestly, this was a more or less solid pairing. Though I was hoping for a few pronounced peaks and valleys or a few unexpected wobbles here and there, this tea basically just stayed the course for the entirety of my drinking session. Fans of sweet yet balanced floral teas would probably be into it on one level or another.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Grapes, Grass, Green Beans, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Red Apple, Rose, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 8 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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98

This was another of my more recent sipdowns. This tea was interesting in that I did not know what to expect out of it, yet it ended up being tremendously enjoyable for me. I would venture to say that this is my current favorite Wuyi Shui Xian. Would anyone have guessed that a Tong Mu Shui Xian would ever become my favorite?

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 19 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, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of cinnamon, pine, baked bread, malt, charcoal, and smoke as well as a subtle blueberry scent. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, and roasted barley as well as even stronger scents of smoke and charcoal and subtler scents of grass and straw. The first infusion introduced aromas of rock sugar, black cherry, and blackberry. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of pine, roasted peanut, baked bread, malt, charcoal, roasted barley, smoke, and black cherry that were balanced by subtler impressions of grass, blackberry, straw, cinnamon, and dried blueberry before a long, cooling herbal finish took hold. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of caramel, strawberry, orange zest, ash, butter, pear, juniper, moss, and minerals. Roasted almond notes came out in the mouth alongside slightly amplified impressions of straw and grass and hints of rock sugar. Mineral, butter, cream, caramel, strawberry, raisin, cocoa, earth, juniper, moss, ash, nutmeg, orange zest, butterscotch, and pear notes were also evident. I even picked up on some hints of roasted hazelnut and toasted rice. Each swallow left an absolutely gorgeous, relaxing cooling sensation in the mouth that remains impossible for me to accurately describe. As the tea faded, the liquor settled and began to emphasize notes of minerals, moss, earth, grass, roasted barley, pine, roasted peanut, malt, and cream that were balanced by subtler notes of roasted almond, straw, baked bread, toasted rice, raisin, charcoal, black cherry, orange zest, cinnamon, and caramel as well as some late arriving vanilla impressions before the pleasant cooling sensation returned and once again took over after each swallow.

This was an absolutely incredible tea. There is no other way for me to describe it. I loved that it offered some more unique aromas and flavors compared to some of the other Wuyi Shui Xian oolongs I have tried in recent months, and I also was extremely impressed by the depth, texture, complexity, and balance of its liquor. It even threw in a few surprises during the second half of my gongfu session, impressions that I could not find on the nose but were certainly there in the mouth. This was just a superb offering. I wish I had purchased more of it now that it seems to be gone forever.

Flavors: Almond, Ash, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Butterscotch, Caramel, Char, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Grass, Hazelnut, Herbaceous, Malt, Mineral, Moss, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Raisins, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Straw, Strawberry, Sugar, Toasted Rice, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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92

This was my most recent sipdown. I actually finished what I had of this tea earlier in the afternoon. This was also a type of Dancong oolong I had never previously encountered. Apparently, it is named after the fruit of a tree, Myrica rubra, that is common in Guangdong Province and is also known as yamamomo (mountain peach), Chinese bayberry, Japanese bayberry, yumberry, red bayberry, waxberry, and Chinese strawberry. I have never tried or even seen one of these fruits, so I have no clue if the scent or flavor of this tea bares any resemblance to those of the fruit. What I do know is that this struck me as being a great tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After rinsing, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 6 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 presented aromas of cream, butter, custard, orange blossom, orchid, and sugarcane. After the rinse, I detected baked bread and vanilla aromas as well as stronger scents of custard and sugarcane. The first infusion introduced a steamed milk scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, custard, orange blossom, sugarcane, orchid, and tangerine that were chased by hints of pomegranate, sour cherry, grass, violet, and white pepper. The subsequent infusions revealed aromas of grass, coriander, nutmeg, red grapefruit, and white pepper as well as subtler scents of lemon curd and tangerine. Stronger and more immediate sour cherry, grass, white pepper, and violet notes appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging impressions of steamed milk and notes of minerals, daylily, daylily shoots, coriander, and nutmeg. I also picked up on subtler impressions of lemon curd, red grapefruit, and honey. As the tea faded, the liqour emphasized mineral, grass, steamed milk, cream, custard, sugarcane, daylily shoot, and lemon curd notes that were balanced by hints of tangerine, butter, baked bread, sour cherry, violet, and honey and late arriving hay and basil touches.

This was both one of the most interesting and satisfying Dancong oolongs I have tried this year. I do not recall ever trying another tea quite like it. I frequently feel like I write the same things over and over again when I review Dancong oolongs, but this tea was decidedly different as it presented me with a wealth of new and fresh aromas and flavors. This tea’s natural cream, steamed milk, custard, and butter notes, as well as some of its more floral and vegetal components, reminded me of many of the Taiwanese and Southeast Asian Jin Xuan oolongs I have tried, while the stone fruit, citrus, and herb notes reminded me a bit of Ya Shi Dancong. Overall, this was a fascinating and pleasing tea, one I would wholeheartedly recommend to fans of Dancong oolongs.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Cherry, Citrus, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Floral, Fruity, Grapefruit, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Lemon, Milk, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Pepper, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Vegetal, Violet

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

I’m also drinking a Dan Cong (teavivre’s) and was noticing grapefruit and lemon which I’ve never noticed in this type of tea, so I’m happy to see my flavor notes are matching with your expert opinion today! I feel like I just tea advanced. :D

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.

Location

KY

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