658 Tasting Notes
I really wanted to like this tea, but the sencha is so strong here that I’m finding it hard to handle. The coconut isn’t quite what I was expecting either — it’s very nutty and more savory than sweet, with something slightly odd in the aftertaste. I thought this would be the green version of Zen’s coconut oolong, but really, the two couldn’t be more different. I’ll probably experiment with shorter, cooler steeps on this and see if that helps, but right now I’m finding this tea a bit much for my tastes.
My order from David’s just arrived! It looks like the company has gone through a few little changes — the box shipped from New York, for one thing, so it got here much faster and that was nice. They’ve topped off all the packets to a full 2 oz. now (which is some consolation for the slight price hike). Also, now you can choose your own samples when you order online! Admittedly, the options are limited, but it still beats crossing my fingers and chanting, “please no rooibos, please no rooibos.”
So I picked out this sample for myself. It smells amazing. The name is a little misleading because I find the apricot to be the strongest flavor in this, but I do definitely taste the almond. The two of them are a great combination, and the only downside is the mate. Just not a mate fan, though at least here the taste of it is pretty light. I’d love to see this tea with a black base, that would be delicious.
Zen Tea kindly included this sample with my order. The oolong is definitely on the darker side — it tastes slightly reminiscent of a formosa oolong, even though I’m pretty sure that’s not what this is. Though the hazelnut and vanilla flavors come through, they don’t stand out — this tea is much more about the blend of flavors, and no ingredient in particular gets a starring role. My general impression is of something dark and rich.
I’m glad I got to try this tea, because it does have a really interesting flavor profile, but I don’t think it’s something I would have chosen for myself, mainly just because I prefer my oolongs on the greener side.
Mmm, smells so good when you open the bag, like the boozy version of coconut! Once steeped it’s quite sweet — the label says something about cake, and I agree there is something a little cake-y about the flavor. The coconut is quite strong, which is great, although there are no actual coconut slivers in the mix. I think compared to David’s version of this, the Zen is a little sweeter and David’s is a little nuttier. I wish I had some of the latter on hand so I could do a taste-off, but unfortunately I’m out. I think I might like David’s slightly better? But maybe my memory is playing tricks on me since it’s been awhile? At any rate, they’re both delicious, so you can’t really go wrong.
My H&S order arrived! So glad to have fresh tins of my two favorites, Bangkok and Paris. H&S threw this sample bag in with my order, and it’s really quite good. When I opened it it smelled like fresh oranges. The orange is more muted once steeped, because the sencha is quite strong in this one, but it’s still a nice blend.
Let’s see, so far I’ve tried David’s, Tealet’s, and both of Teavivre’s milk oolongs. So this is my fifth milk oolong, and wow, it’s nothing like the others. It’s SOOO buttery. When I opened the bag it smelled like movie theater popcorn. I didn’t really know what to think, but it steeped up beautifully. It’s very smooth and creamy, there does seem to be just a breath of salt in the flavor, but happily it doesn’t actually taste like popcorn. Also, you can get many many steeps out of it. A+
I’m not really a fan of Tie Guan Yin — the earthy chocolate notes paired with the floral just doesn’t do it for me. That said, I do think this tea is about the best a Tie Guan Yin can be — it’s very smooth and the lilac aspect is a nice surprise — so if you are into it, definitely check this one out. It has great longevity, I think I’ve done 6 steeps and it’s still going strong.
My gravity steeper was in desperate need of cleaning, so I ordered some of Mandala’s Smart Soak, and Garret kindly threw in some tea samples as well.
This one is particularly well balanced, a delicate mix of light cream, floral, and vegetal notes. Steeped, the hearty-looking leaves smell like something between steamed spinach and swiss chard, but this isn’t in the flavor at all, as the vegetal notes lean much closer to snow pea.
I tried to follow the instructions closely, starting with a 5 second rinse and then doing 30 second steeps. This worked very well, and I do get the feeling that this is a tea you have to be pretty precise about, and definitely you don’t want to get sloppy on it with the steep times. I think I got 6 steeps out of it before I had to run, and they were all flavorful, but my favorite was probably the second or third steep.
Of course it all tasted so much better with the steeper all shiny and clean again. That Soak really is amazing! Many thanks to AllanK and Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl for recommending it.