461 Tasting Notes
Probably a shame to review this when it’s sold out. But I’ve still got a little left in my personal cupboard.
This was such an interesting tea to drink, and to look at. Most fine-pluck tippy teas have a smattering of gold tips amongst black tips. But with this one, each individual leaf has some gold and some black on it. Very careful sorting, almost all of them delicate whole buds.
Brewed this in a gaiwan, rough steeps of 15-20 seconds as I like a strong black. The cup is a deep red (the photo doesn’t do it justice, that’s much too light unless you’re intentionally trying to brew it light), and if you catch it in the light, you can see the fuzz from the leaves floating. The smell and taste is remarkably unique to me—burnt sugar and/or buckwheat honey is the best I can describe it. Very rich and sweet, with a kind of syrupy mouthfeel that lingers. Lighter steeps almost bring out a muscatel, winey note, alike but very different to any Darjeeling I’ve ever had. There are little notes of… I want to say grain or malt that verge into the ‘burnt sugar’ description.
I find this doesn’t get bitter, but it can get STRONG, due to the small size of the leaf material. Second steep really filled my mouth and nose with aroma. Wine. Fruit? Something of that sort, thick honey—it was given the name ‘honeysuckle’ at the importer-level due to that unmistakable syrupy honey flavour; I specifically wrote down ‘buckwheat honey’ in my own notes, because if anyone has ever tried THAT. It’s downright molassesy, and definitely still applies here.
The muscatel/wine notes in particular come through at the end of the sip, sort of lingering on the tongue.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Honey, Muscatel
I had to head down this way to run some errands for work (unfortunately a COVID19 complication means I’ll have to run down there AGAIN tomorrow). Thought I’d hit this place up again. I wasn’t in love the first time, but they offer everything in sample sizes as well and I DO like samples. Unfortunately! Their sample board was straight up bare today. Still, grabbed what interested me and picked up a 25g of this one.
Dry: The smell is definitely ovaltine-malt-chocolate and that kind of caramel/syrup I associate with fancy alcoholic chocolates, specifically.
Taste wise, I get more chocolate and a sort of ‘salted’ note that makes me think of salted caramels. The cocoa nibs definitely add a taste, more than the flavouring I think. The cinnamon doesn’t come through at all in the flavour, which is what I was hoping for. Never was a fan of abundant cinnamon in teas.
Been sipping this with pistachio cookies on the side. As it cools, there’s an astringent malt kind of note. Maybe from the tea (I did oversteep it a bit), maybe from the cocoa nibs.
It’s nice enough. I’ve got an ounce to play with too. Surprisingly pleasant cold, though I don’t think I’ll try an iced tea out of it.
The leaves I noticed are also a whole OP rather than a BOP, not something I see often in flavoured teas. I can’t remember if that was the case for the original batch of samples I bought from them. Huh.
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Malt
I’ve started posting little snippets of tea to instagram… Don’t know if I’ll do tasting notes or anything, but. I’ve finally got a phone that takes semi-decent photos.
Didn’t measure my leaf, but filled my gaiwan about halfway with dry leaf. Flash-rinsed at boiling, which I drank. Smooth, floral, sort of fruity in the way of apricot.
Second steep at 95°c, about ten-ish seconds. Aroma is light, sticky drop-fruit. Taste is definitely more floral, not hearty. Not bitter. Tip of your tongue sort of jasmine/lily. Continuing off this steep, as it cools there’s a juicyness to it that I can’t really pinpoint down to any specific fruit. A faint drying quality on the tongue as well.
Third steep, done the same. Bit more fruity, again in that creamy sticky drop-fruit area. Treasure Green suggests ‘lychee’ which fits, especially as I find it pretty perfumy/powdery and floral.
Fourth does switch into more astringency and drying on the tongue, but a not-quite apricot, ‘creamy’ fruit flavour under it. The roast is starting to come through a bit more as well, but not enough to affect the flavour. Just this dry honeyed note.
Flavors: Apricot, Flowers, Honey, Jasmine, Lychee
Got a single coin bingcha of this one with my order, which showed up conveniently on Dec 23rd but I didn’t get a chance to open it until I returned home on the 24th. Perfect timing for Christmas
It’s weird how accurate ‘strawberry’ is to describing it. There’s a faint acidity rounded out by a sweetness at the roof of your mouth that fits ‘strawberry’ quite well. Maybe ‘candy apple’.
I’m not keeping to any stringent steeping, just haphazardly threw the entire thing in my gaiwan. It took a few steeps for the coin to open up, but it definitely did. Not finding anything hugely complex—but it’s sweet, honey and hay in the forefront, a very dried grass aroma followed by a light fruityness in the back.
The tea definitely lasts a while, more than I expected but the coin takes a while to open up.
Honey lingers between sips when you breath out, quite pleasant.
Dry, the smell is intensely fruity with a bit of spice, almost malt. Like baked fruit and cinnamon.
First steep—about 30 seconds—similar smell, heavy baked fruit like cherry pie. First sip, there’s a surprisingly floral note, that descends into mineral, cherry, plummyness.
Second steep—30 seconds. Honestly this should be called ‘Cherry Pie’. The smell is heavily cherry with this lightly floral, gardenia-like topnote. That probably comes from the oolong cultivar, but the other two samples I got also used that cultivar and I didn’t get quite the same note (although it could have been lost in the roast, in the Dong Ding).
Third steep—30 seconds, a bit of a sour note introduced, but not citrus, definitely still fits the cherry note I’m getting.
Fourth—onwards. Water started to cool… Not finding much variation between steeps, but the cherry/baked fruit taste coats the mouth. It sticks even with cooler water (since I keep mine in an insulated carafe near my desk).
Dry, the leaves smell of roast and caramel. Brewed, it’s roast and sweet citrus.
First steep, ten seconds, no rinse (impatience!) was pretty weak, but that’s expected—the leaves have barely opened up yet.
Second, 15 seconds: No fruit, but roast, mineral sweetness that sits at the back of your throat.
Third steep, 20 seconds—turned it a bit sour in subsequent sips, although the smell is a rich toasted caramel. Letting the liquor sit on your tongue brings that out, a sweet roast. Ruminating on the sour, it does come through as a note of citrus on the steep and then hits sour on the back of your tongue. It’s not unpleasant, but I know something one tries to avoid in a roasted oolong.
Fourth, 20 seconds. Will definitely up the times. There’s definitely aroma, although the liquor feels a bit thin to me.
Fifth, minute. Sweetness dissipated, mostly just subtle roast and a bit of a sour citrus note.
The leaves are full beautiful,, very in-tact, not much dust. Dry, the smell is very fragrant, sharply fruity. Brewing, the liquor smells fruity and sweet, a very typical Oriental Beauty profile with an extra undertone of spice—like sweet cinnamon.
Made in a gaiwan. 30 seconds first steep, no rinse, water allowed to cool from boil. First steep is clear honey, but not long-lasting on the nose, sort of watery, but the leaves likely haven’t fully opened yet. Faint fruit in the back of the throat.
Second steep, 30 seconds. Undernote of spice, but otherwise doesn’t fill the mouth—liquor is still a bit thin. May up the steeping to a minute. Smelling the lid, a thick, cinnamon-honey smell.
Third steep, 60 seconds. Cinnamon spice comes to the forefront. Still sweet, strong, but not long-lasting. Towards the end of the cup got a bit of bitterness.
Started playing a little more loosely with it at this point, given the hour. The fragrance is deep and sweet, but in general I didn’t find the flavour very lasting. Still very pleasant.
It’s been a while since I’ve sat down with this tea. First three steeps at 15 seconds. Very floral is my first impression (jasminy), it doesn’t coat the mouth like a heavier tea, the roast is very light, barely there, no puckering or sour notes although it does make me salivate. Having been working with apricot flavouring a lot recently, I realize I get notes of apricot in this; not as juicy as peach, more floral, more light. Not sour, a bit dry.
Fourth steep was 30ish seconds because I was having a conversation, whoops. Tea is noticeably harsher, astringent, but holds up well, floral and a bit like under-ripe sour fruits.
Leaving a breather after that, and I can taste that sort of dull apricot on my tongue as I exhale.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Jasmine
I’ve had this in my cupboard for a while. It’s a weird tea. It’s dark, intriguing, smooth, peaty and fermented like a weirdly fruity shu. The smell is like nothing I’ve ever really smelt in tea before—overripe fruit, maybe?
The tasting notes say ‘oak’ and I get what they mean by that; a drier black tea note, slightly bright, lingers on the back of the tongue. Honey not so much… Three is an overhanging sweetness, definitely more fruity. Not floral. Like the fruit notes of lapsang. Drop fruit? I’m not sure the term.
I gave this one a few steeps (~20-30 seconds) and later steeps felt thicker, raisin/juicy fruits with a subtle sour note. Thirdish steep the overripe fruit sensation was strong; sweet and wine/alcoholic almost when I breathed out. Slurping sort of brought about a more honeyed sensation; not quite floral. Warming.
Flavors: Alcohol, Fruity, Honey, Oak, Peat, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins
This’ one I’ve been coveting for a while, since the Urban Tea Merchant switched over to a ‘TWG Branded’ store. It came with a new lineup of employees, not the regulars I knew, and at first they didn’t have all of the teas in… Later I realized the main manager there just wasn’t fond of serving anyone who didn’t look ‘ritzy’ enough to make a reservation. Bluh. I tried a few times, but he couldn’t be bothered to check (I could physically see the tin labelled ‘Honey’). This time around I was the only one in the story, so got his attention long enough to grab this one (had an odd back-and-forth ‘Honey tea? No.’ ‘Oh, you’re sure?’ ‘Oh, honey tea, yes.’), but wasn’t able to inquire after anything else before being ushered to the till. Welp.
Anyhow—rant over, this smells STRONG, floral, like sweet pollen. The taste is more… waxy. Sweet, but not ‘sweetened’. I assume what honey MIGHT taste like if you stripped away the ‘sweet’. Sort of like… biting into a beeswax candle, almost. Waxy and floral. It’s different, and lives up to the weird hype I was building in my head in anticipation of trying it.
Not the weirdest tea I’ve tried from TWG… Honestly don’t know why more tea companies don’t carry a honey tea? I assume it must be a difficult flavour to source, and get right (I wonder how much like ‘honey’ this would taste with a sweetener added; an experiment to try, although I’m at that point where I straight up dislike sugar in my tea).
Edit: Forgot to add, very reminiscent of DavidsTea’s Wild Honey Matcha. Same flavouring? Feeling like I should buy some and try them together.