64 Tasting Notes

drank Sencha by Narien Teas
64 tasting notes

I’m pretty happy with this sencha. It’s very sweet, vegetal with undertones of soy beans and a smooth and mellow liquor with a pleasant astringency and a tad bit of bitterness in the first steep or two. However, the flavor is quite one-dimensional, and doesn’t evolve much between steeps, although it does grant several. Compared with the poetic description on Narien’s site, the flavor of the tea I received did not add up. The aroma is of fresh steamed greens and has a subtle acorn-like scent as well. My largest complaint is the amount of tea dust. After steeping, the liquor appears murky and looks as though it was infused with saw dust, and causes the liquor to have a thick and heavy, and almost milk-like mouthfeel. However, the wet leaves appears very even, are of a bright green coloration, and seem quite healthy. They also have a nice delicate, silky feel to them. It’s a nice tea to sip with a snack for a very cheap price, but if you’re looking for a unique tea experience, I would look elsewhere.

170 °F / 76 °C

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I was slightly disappointed with this Wuyi from Jing. I received this and other oolongs in a limited-time sampler, and from what it looked like on their website, this was supposed to be the best of the bunch, being the “highest grade” for 2011 and “perfectly proportioned.” However, throughout the multiple times I tried this tea using differing amounts of leaf each time, I never really found anything astounding in it. In fact, the sample itself was very poor quality. I could not believe how dusty this tea was. At the bottom of the bag was at least two teaspoons of tiny, broken pieces resembling a CTC black tea. And given that there was only around 10 grams of leaf in the bag, this was a highly unreasonable amount. However, the whole leaves and halves of leaves that made up the rest of the tea in the sample was of good quality and appeared to be manufactured well, with a pleasant aroma of freshly-cut hay and dried fruit when dry and a pungent, pine-wood and stone fruit aroma when wet.

While the flavor of the tea itself was quite good, it never really evolved. A “pure tea” taste was the most prominent, with a few undertones of woodiness and pine, maybe a little spice. The aroma was of dried fruit and honey-like. The liquor was clear and brisk and grew sweeter with each subsequent steep. Beyond all that, though, not much else was delivered. Throughout 8 steeps gong fu style, the flavor remained essentially the same, with very little evolution. However, the first steeps were very strong and almost unpleasantly bitter, even after a decent preliminary wash in my gaiwan. Thankfully this was only temporary and sweetness overtook nearly all of the bitterness, but from then on, nothing changed significantly. A great deal of what seemed to be missing in taste was made up for by its aftertaste, which was lingering and refreshing.

Overall, a decent light and flavorful sipping tea with medium body, but lacking depth and complexity. To me, it was definitely not as exciting as Jing’s Cassia Wuyi and did not live up to its afore-mentioned praise, but was a pleasant tea nonetheless.

195 °F / 90 °C

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I brewed this tea gong fu style in a 100ml gaiwan filled between one third and one half with dry leaf.

This Oriental Beauty has a great character, with a bright, crisp black tea-like finish. The flavor of the liquor is right there to enjoy off the cusp of the sip, but also evolves slightly to bring out a body with decent complexity, which fades slowly. The aftertaste was pleasant, smooth, and sweet and filled the back of the throat nicely, with a bit of a bitter glaze at the back of the mouth.

Receiving close to 18 steeps, the flavors of the liquor evolved very intriguingly. At first bringing a woodsy, cedar-nut, “pure tea” taste with undertones of sweet pines and spiced apples, it somewhat reminded me of a Formosa oolong in texture and body. Over time, though, the sweet and fruity notes became more pronounced while the pure tea and spicy tones were reduced. By close to the ninth steep, an earthiness appeared, adding further complexity and texture. Towards the end of steeping, the sweetness of this tea was one of the most pronounced tones in addition to musky and stony flavors which replaced the piney nature of this tea that was ever so present in the beginning.

It would have been nice to have all of the flavors present at once in varying degrees, which would have produced a resounding depth, something which this tea does not have much of. While bringing forth a great many different flavors and nuances, the interesting tones noted at the beginning were difficult to find towards the end. This left a somewhat hollowness in each steep, as if the tea was never able to attain a completely full body. This phenomenon is even more pronounced if brewed with fewer leaves. When I first tried this Oriental Beauty gong fu style with a smaller amount of leaves than I used for the above analysis, I was disappointed by the lack of complexity and resonance, seemingly receiving the same tea over and over. I’m glad I tasted it again with a heftier amount, otherwise I wouldn’t have achieved the memorable, if not somewhat lacking, experience this tea is capable of.

195 °F / 90 °C

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I brewed this tea gong fu style in a 100ml gaiwan filled about a third of the way with dry leaf.

This tea is light and brisk, with a very clean liquor in taste and feel. The texture is soft and smooth, like well-fashioned leather, which creams easily and quickly. The flavor of the liquor bursts explosively, and fades with dignity, leaving behind a satisfying and filling aftertaste. The flavor is very similar to an Oriental Beauty, with woodsy, roasted notes and a spicy zest greatly apparent. However, underneath all this is a green-oolong taste which blossoms in the mouth much like a tieguanyin, which grants a great deal of floral and stone-fruit aromatics.

While not yielding an extremely high number of steeps, a modest number of around 9 quality steeps were received. At first woodsy and roasted, with hints of biscuity and sweet pear tones, with just a faint hint of bitterness, it evolved extremely well, diving into complexities not expected. Sweetness was intensified, floral qualities appeared, and a subtle greenness found its way into the undertones of this Cassia Wuyi oolong. Around the sixth and seventh steep, tones of cocoa butter and wildflowers were present in the aroma which later made their way into the flavor of the liquor as this tea transformed itself into something tasting much less oxidized and more green as floral and grassy notes appeared and the roastiness presented in the beginning gradually dissipated. All the while, the spicy, almost saffron-like qualities progressed until the last steep, the full body of this tea held together by “pure tea” tones.

Overall, I’m highly impressed by this tea. By around the seventh steep, I paused in writing my notes and cracked a smile—it was quite a fantastic brew. Every note of complexity mingled together so pleasantly, it was definitely the climax of this tea’s flavor development. And the fact that that many steeps later it produced such a great experience really tells of the great quality of this oolong.

190 °F / 87 °C

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I’m fanatic about all things tea-related. Lately, I’ve been fascinated with Wuyi yancha, aged Taiwanese oolongs, and sheng pu’ercha. Nearly all of my sessions as of late are performed gong fu, with pu’er tastings comprising probably eighty percent of them. My collection of pu’ercha is small, but growing steadily. Much of the specimens I drink daily are various samples, although I dig into a cake every so often.

I love trying new teas and I am always learning all I can about the world of tea. Hence, I spend a majority of the time I devote to tea either drinking, writing notes in my journal, or reading. But mostly drinking, as I think it should be. Since I have handwritten logs of everything I drink, I cannot usually find the extra time to log my notes here, and unfortunately my online log is underrepresented.

When drinking, I look for a tea that presents a unique experience, something that involves every sense and provides intrigue in every aspect throughout steeps. I search for teas with balanced complexity and something that makes me keep reaching for my cup. I yearn to find all the positives a tea possesses and every subtle nuance hiding among the leaves. I try to be detailed in my notes and deliver a more comprehensive view of the tea, paying attention to things other than simply flavors and qualitative aspects of aroma, such as the form of the liquor and its development in the mouth. Things like this are much easier to compare between teas, as I find them to be more consistent between sessions, and also make distinctions between a good and mediocre tea easier to make.

Adagio UtiliTEA electric kettle.
For gong fu, a 100 mL porcelain gaiwan and a 100mL Yixing di cao qing xi shi pot dedicated to mostly young sheng pu’er.
I drink all green teas in small (maybe 450mL) glass tumblers in the traditional style, with off-boiling water.


Fort Myers, Florida

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