21 Tasting Notes
Drinking a Gushu Hong Cha #2 from the same vendor in Minsk that I got the georgian hongcha from. I think this is sourced from TeaSide but I am not sure, so I’ll log it here. Supposed to be from trees 100-200 years old. Wish I had bought more than just a 20g sample!
Leaves are long and twisty, gold and black.
2.5g in 300ml for 3.5 minutes.
Strong but not bitter or astringent. Reminds of Taiwan Wild Boar (strong but not bitter) but more complex with a fuller body and better mouthfeel. Really enjoyed it, good for starting the day. Some malt and wood. Sweet after taste.
Makes me wonder if I need to give Indian Assams another chance but you know, I already have 25+ hongcha ordered that I need to try.
Second steep was meant to be 5 minutes but I oversteeped. Still good and not astringent.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Malt, Sweet, Wood
So the tea I’m reviewing is labelled “Nepal Golden Tippy Black Tea” and I think its just this year’s version of the same tea.
To be honest I just had it for the second time and I’ve delayed posting a note because I’ve been lacking the vocabulary to describe this one. There is a smell, from the dry leaf in a warm pot, and a flavour from the tea, that I couldn’t quite place.
Most other reviews mention fruity, which I don’t get. However, someone mentioned french toast which might be close to the smell I pick up. The tea is smooth as described, but the malt is much weaker than I expected. There is an after taste that is difficult to place, a pleasant one. Overall a good tea but doesn’t really stand out for me. For smoother teas I prefer the Georgian ones carried by the same vendor, and for more malt I look to yunnan blacks.
I may try this with a longer infusion time, maybe 5 minutes.I can definitely see this one being a solid daily drinker for some, depending on personal preferences (eg a little malty but super smooth and no astringency).
Flavors: Malt, Smooth
Georgian hongcha from 2017. Picked this up in Minsk, Belarus. Not much detail known beyond that. I tend to look up teahouses and vendors when I travel and I found a pretty nice place in Minsk that did gong fu cha and had a pretty solid selection of teas.
The vendor was rather reluctant to sell me this as he had “much better teas” and told me that while the leaf material itself was solid, it was not hand processed. Had to explain how I’ve had some other really good Georgian teas (via whatcha) and I was curious to compare them.
Brewed this up western style, 2.5g in 300ml for 3minutes. As I sat down with a cup of this I got preoccupied and my first sip had me a bit confused as to what I was drinking. Very soft and smooth, almost creamy in the mouth. Rather monodimensional and not as interesting as say the Phoenix Georgian hongcha from what-cha, but a pretty nice and easy cup with no astringency at all.
I have another georgian tea on hand that I haven’t tried yet, via thetea.pl’s tea club. Will be interesting to see if that also fits the pattern of really smooth and easy drinkers.
2.5g for 2.5 minutes in 300ml of water just off the boil. Re-steeps well at 4 minutes.
This is a surprising tea. It’s a nice strong cup of tea but smooth and without any of the astringency I usually expect with a stronger hongcha. Thick mouthfeel almost like a bulang shou. Not the most complex but very satisfying for when you want a nice strong cup. Notes of cocoa dominate with an underlying sweetness that is somewhat obscurbed by the slight bitterness from the cocoa. Not getting much malt from this one unlike other reviews. I’ve been drinking this on and off for the last few weeks. It will never be a favourite as its a bit monodimensional but its something I think I’d like to have on hand for when I want a stronger hongcha.
I think this would make for a good option for those looking for a loose leaf alternative to bagged english breakfast teas. Will introduce this to family members who enjoy a splash of milk in their tea as I think it will hold up well to it.
Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet
I’ve had this one a few times now. 3g for 300ml for 3 minutes, with water just off the boil. Re-steeps well at 5 minutes.
Smooth, very very smooth with a light sweetness. There is a bit of a fruity taste somewhere in the body but its so delicate that I find it hard to pin down. This is a great daily drinker and also great for anyone that doesn’t usually like hongcha due to astringency as there is none to be found here.
This isn’t exactly a mind blowing tea in terms of flavours but I rate it quite highly just because its so smooth and pleasurable to drink.
Yet to gongfu this.
Flavors: Smooth, Stonefruits
2.5g for 300ml for 3 minutes with water just off the boil.
A very interesting black tea that is completely distinct from darjeelings. The first aroma from the dry leaf upon opening the bag is of milk chocolate. After leaving it in a preheated empty pot for a few minutes, the aroma shifts more towards roast and wood.
This is a dry tea with an underlying delicate sweetness. Not sweet like a taiwanese black, a lot more subtle. It’s a softer black but not very soft, compared to say a georgian black or even an Australian arakai. It feels dry in the mouth at first, followed by smooth notes of chocolate and light roast, followed by a dryish slightly sweet aftertaste with lingering roast notes.
Will give this another go on a different day, both western style and also gongfu. My first assessment is that it’s a good and different hongchabut not quite up there with some of the others I’ve tried recently (Shan cha, Phoenix Georgian Black and Australian Arakai).
Flavors: Chocolate, Roasted, Roasted Barley
Like a cross between a taiwanese black and a mellow georgian black, but maltier and woodier. With a sweet after taste. This is definitely a good one. I’m currently exploring hongcha from different terroirs and processing – a total of about 40 different hongcha over the next few months – and I definitely want to try the spring flush from this estate now.
I brewed this western style, 2.5g for 2.5 minutes in 300ml of water just off the boil. Will try it gongfu next, as per recommendations from the estate.
Flavors: Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Wood
You know all those time you read tea reviews and tasting notes, and find that the flavours descriptions are all exaggerated. Yeah well, this is not one of those times! Yams and blueberries. I honestly had a hard time believing this wasn’t a flavored and sweetened tea. I felt like someone had thrown in a spoonful of blueberry jam while I wasn’t looking.
This is very light for a black tea and a whole different animal from what I was expecting. 3g in 250ml for 3 minutes, followed by 4 minutes and then 5 minutes. Will definitely order again.
Flavors: Blueberry, Fruit Tree Flowers, Yams
So while I drink a lot of hongcha, this is my first experience with taiwanese black tea. To be honest, it’s not at all what I usually expect from a black tea but its very good. The dry leaf looks pretty and is all rolled up like an oolong. It’s fragrant, making me think of the smell of a sweet potato roasting in the oven.
I brewed this western style for now, following the parameters on the bag (1tsp, 250ml of water, 3.5 minutes). The brewed tea is a lovely amber color and has a roasty aroma, almost made me think I had accidentally brewed an oolong. The taste is light but has a nice body and is by no means weak. Strong roasted tones without being too overpowering, with an underlying maltiness. Very smooth for a tea with roasted notes. I downed this really quickly.
I look forward to playing with this one more including gongfu brewing. This is a very good tea and I am trying hard not to like it too much, as ordering from US vendors is incredibly complicated for me. May have to explore other taiwanese Alishan black teas from other vendors as well.
Flavors: Malt, Roasted
This was another sample from glyxtea. Used 8g in a 130ml gaiwan. Did a quick rinse and then lets the leaves sit for 10 minutes. First steep was a flash steep, gradually increasing steeping time thereafter. The tea tastes younger than I would have expected, which reflects the storage it has been through, very clean.
Hints of smoke, grass and wood. Not as sweet as the bangdong. I feel like this sheng might be at that phase now where its not young enough for the floral notes to really stand out, and not old enough to have developed more complexity. Would be interesting to see how this is in a few more years. 10 steeps in total and I probably could have gotten more out of it with longer steeping times. A good tea, but personally I prefer the bangdong.