167 Tasting Notes


[Spring 2015 picking]

Dry leaf (SWEET, HERBAL, NUT): dark malt, mossy green notes, some red fruit. In preheated vessel – strong nut notes, green herb, blackstrap molasses, beer wort

Smell (SWEET, EARTHY): caramel, sweet potato, malt

Taste (SWEET, EARTHY, NUT, FRUIT): sweet potato, brûléd marshmallows, dry baking spices, light malt and caramel, raw almond, dried date, green stem notes, dark ripe cherry

Two main things with this one: 1) it tastes like sweet potato casserole in a cup, 2) it is very dynamic.

So, regarding point 1 – it is delicious. Great balance of earthy, sweet, dark and light flavors.

Regarding point 2 – every time I sessioned this tea, I got something new out of it. The flavors were constantly evolving – sometimes fruitier, sometimes earthier, sometimes greener, sometimes sweeter. Really a fun tea to have and to look forward to drinking.

I have to admit, I had a period of disinterest with black teas. They always have that one recognizable English breakfast-y sort of thing that takes me back to my bagged tea days. Familiarity breeds contempt, as they say. But after two great experiences just this year, they are really climbing pretty high up on my list. Dynamic and complex, and generally a very affordable brew.

This is the PERFECT November treat.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Dry leaf – SWEET, SPICE, MINERAL, NUT (primary light cinnamon/Mexican chocolate and wet rock minerality; notes of dark caramel and bitter green leafiness. In preheated vessel – pungent green leafiness and dried apricot)

Smell – MINERAL, SWEET (wet rock minerality, walnut, bitter leafiness; notes of cinnamon chocolate and dark caramel)

Taste – MINERAL, NUT, SWEET, EARTHY, SPICE, FRUIT (In mouth – mineral, dry nuttiness, some cinnamon and spice notes, tea leaves. Finish lingers on cinnamon and some chocolate/dark caramel. Aftertaste mouth-coating and complex, with sweet cinnamon, root beer (sarsaparilla), red fruit, apricot.)

Overall a tasty Wu Yi oolong. Flavors in the mouth are pretty standard – dry minerality and some nuttiness, hints at the cassia/cinnamon of its name. The aftertaste, however, is complex and coats the mouth. Multiple flavors pop out in different parts of the mouth – some fruit, some spice, some nut, some earthy-sweet.

Be sure to take the time to sit back and let the aftertaste develop. This tea doesn’t give away very much in the mouth.

6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Dry leaf (HAY, SWEET): sweet hay, autumn leaves, old books. Despite “aged” notes of leaves and books, etc., there is a noticeable sweetness that comes out.

Smell (AGED, LEATHER, SWEET): old book, leather, some raisin sweetness

Taste (LEAF, HAY, HONEY, MINERAL, CITRUS): In the mouth – fall leaves, old book, fresh hay, light tobacco, light leather, hint of pepper/white pepper, very light astringency. Finish – mild honey and green stem, lemongrass. Aftertaste lingers with old book, lemongrass, and light but lasting minerality and saccharine sweetness.

This is a great daily drinker. It’s cheap and it’s good. It gives you those “aged” flavors without breaking the bank. Mainly has a “fusty” old book/leather/light tobacco sort of thing going on, but there are a few bright notes of lemongrass and saccharine sweetness to give energy to the whole experience. Couple that with some minerality and some astringency to add a little more depth and you have a great cup of tea on your hands.

This thing won’t be trading at hundreds of dollars on eBay anytime soon, but I have always enjoyed my sessions and have always looked forward to the next one. Well worth the price.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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Dry leaf: (NUT, SWEET, SMOKE) wood smoke/campfire, roast pecans and chestnuts; secondary notes of bitter green/herbal (marjoram?), malt, and dark chocolate. In preheated vessel – roast nut much stronger, molasses; secondary notes of malt and cherry cordial.

Smell: (SWEET, SMOKE, NUT) brûlé, dark caramel, roasted pecans and walnuts; secondary notes of wood smoke; hint of green herbal like marjoram. Overall base of a solid, thick English breakfast tea.

Taste: (MALT, SMOKE, SWEET, NUT) malt, wood smoke, light molasses, roast pecan and chestnut; secondary dark chocolate, green leafiness, strong English breakfast tea, autumn leaves; hints of cherry cordial.

So, once again I got a tea largely due to its awesome name. I was rewarded. This tea has big flavors and great complexity. You can smell it ten feet away after you’ve brewed, and its aftertaste lingers in the mouth for quite a while. The power of the golden monkey is great!

Recommend this for someone looking for a black tea with lots of flavor and lots of personality.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Dry leaf – HERBAL, SPICE, HONEY (fragrant and bitter green herbal like dill, cilantro; dry baking spice: cinnamon, allspice; hints of Mexican hot chocolate and vanilla extract). In preheated vessel – rich fragrant floral, honeysuckle, bitter honey

Smell – VEGETAL, HONEY (bitter green, bitter honey, herbal notes still there)

Taste – VEGETAL, HERBAL, FRUIT, SWEET. Arrival has dill, cilantro, buttered lima beans, and honeysuckle. Development of cream, cinnamon, and fragrant floral (orchid maybe?). Finish lingers on cream, cinnamon, and green apple notes. Aftertaste of peach and green apple, with lingering creamy sweetness.

It’s called Hairy Crab, and I bought it because the name made me laugh. Also, it’s cheap. Better yet, it’s good. Lots of great flavors, it’s dynamic in the mouth and throughout the session.

Nice balance of green/vegetal/herbal notes with sweet notes of honey and fruit. The creaminess and “spiciness” of it were nice surprises as well. Never unpleasantly bitter or “green” or just overly vegetal as many green oolongs can be. Strong hui gan that is refreshing and satisfying.

Price to quality ratio on this one can’t be beat. Great choice for an affordable and delicious oolong.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Dry leaf – CHOCOLATE, NUT, FRUIT: dark chocolate and cocoa, with notes of roast peanut, orange peel, and dried apricot. In preheated vessel – rich fruit develops: dried apricot, peach, orange peel, peach jelly candy, some fruity oiliness

Smell – NUT, FRUIT: roast peanut, peach notes, hint of green leaf/twig bitterness

Taste – NUT, FLORAL, MINERAL, TART, PEACH: In the mouth, general oolong roasted nuttiness, vanilla and light floral scents come up from time to time; slight wet rock minerality and green leaf astringency; fruity tartness carries hints of strong peach flavor that is to develop. Aftertaste brings a wave of peach (fresh, peach jelly, peach jelly candies, even peaches and cream), that is balanced by a perfectly balanced mineral “bassline.”

So, this is the famous ya shi.

What a great session. First of all, PEACH! This thing screams peach. Not at first, but, once that first hui gan comes rolling around… It’s strong, it’s rich, it has depth – all kinds of various peach flavors come from the throat and coat your mouth.

This is so delightful (not a word I use often!) and so distracting, in a way, that it took me a while to appreciate the in-mouth flavors. At first, I kind of wrote them off as a little subdued, a little (just a little) lacking in complexity. However, after pausing and taking my time with it, I began enjoying these flavors as well. In the mouth, the experience is drier, with an intriguing development of pleasant tannins and minerality subdued by a familiar roasted nuttiness and oolonginess. There is a fruity tartness, too, that hints at the waves of peach that are about to arrive.

So, A+ on providing an interesting and rewarding tea session that got my Saturday off to a great start.

A few parting notes – One, this guy has some staying power. After 6 (maybe 7) steeps, the flavors get a little woodier, not in a bad way, but you can tell you have tapped out the initial flavors of the leaf. Nonetheless, the peach flavors continue as strong as ever, to the point where I felt a little guilty ending the session. Probably could do something with the spent leaves and have some awesome iced tea or something.

Two, I don’t really note qi. I don’t seek after it, and most teas generally make me feel about the same. This tea, however, has some power. On one particular day that started at 5:15 am, I had two rounds of tea – some raw pu’erh about 9 years old in the morning, and this stuff in the early afternoon. The oolong won. Way more power – totally tea drunk.

In fact, currently tea drunk. Post too long. Must end. Get some of this – you won’t be disappointed.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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[tasted summer 2016]

Dry leaf: SWEET, FLORAL (honey, honeysuckle, green apple, fragrant floral)

Smell: SWEET, FLORAL (sweet, bitter floral typical of young raw; green apple, hint of ashy smoke)

Taste: SWEET, HERBAL, NUTTY, GRASSY, FRUIT (thick honey sweetness, white pepper, fragrant floral – lilac? lily of the valley? – ashy smokiness, bitter green wood, sharp herbal like basil or cilantro, nutty oiliness, light raisin, astringent, dried apricot, fresh hay, sweet grass)

What a great find. Flavors are intriguing – a lot of personality, a lot of notes to pick up on, nothing unpleasant or flat. I’m not even a young raw kind of guy, but this was really nice to drink. It has a full mouthfeel, plenty of rich oiliness, and enough bitterness to keep things fresh and interesting, like any good young raw should. As far as I can tell, it has plenty to build off of as it matures.

Other folks seem to have been a little more critical of this cake than I have been. So, either I’m a cheap date, or this thing has aged wonderfully in the past few months. I found it to be much more interesting and pleasant than more expensive and older cakes.

In my opinion, this is an economy raw that is punching well above its weight class. Well worth purchasing several cakes, as I will be doing

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Dry leaf: NUTTY, SWEET (nut, dry nut/acorn, walnut, coriander, dark chocolate, hazelnut, mocha. In preheated vessel: sweet and sour, oily citrus notes develop in addition to notes above.)

Smell: NUTTY, EARTHY (nut, autumn leaves, malt, sweet bread, light cinnamon/spice notes)

Taste: NUTTY, CITRUS, SWEET, EARTHY, FRUITY (oily citrus, coriander, sweet nut – almond and pecan – notes of cinnamon, hint of maple syrup, rich malty body, fresh wood, light wet rock minerality, strong fresh apricot and peach in aftertaste, even some red fruit in aftertaste.)

Oh man, this is good. Rich and complex, a tapestry of fruity and sweet notes woven together with earthy nuttiness, maltiness, and minerality.

I really admire the complexity of flavors. Coriander-like citrus, cinnamon notes that pop up, rich earthy and malty base, fresh and vibrant stonefruit hui gan… What a treat.

As much as I am a sucker for going out and trying new stuff, this tea WILL be purchased again. The experience well exceeds its modest price tag.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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[Review of Spring 2016 picking]

Dry leaf: HERBAL, VEGETAL, SWEET (dried herbs – parsley, dill, thyme – cooked green beans and spinach, sweet butter, notes of milk chocolate, hint of cherry cordial. In preheated vessel – nuttiness and roastiness present, sort of “green peanut” notes)

Smell – FLORAL, VEGETAL, SWEET (fragrant floral – lily of the valley – buttered green vegetables, green nuttiness, some hints of chocolate and cinnamon-raisin bread)

Taste – VEGETAL, FLORAL, HERBAL, FRUITY (Arrival is green vegetable, sweet and sour, green stem, and lemongrass. In the mouth, notes of marine savoriness and hints of cinnamon-raisin bread develop. Finish is floral fragrant (lily of the valley), and dried herb (parsley and mint). Aftertaste is pronounced sweet stonefruit – ripe peach and apricot, some cherry sweetness.)

After a summer of exploring some various green oolongs, I have to say that this one is currently the clear winner. The flavors are varied and complex, strong but not overpowering. Every session had me picking up on new flavors and nuances. In addition, the tea is sensitive to changes in brewing parameters, but in a good way, allowing you to develop flavors you prefer in the tea.

Fresh, thick, and fruity. Great one to sip on as you procrastinate mowing the grass on a late summer afternoon. I speak from experience.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Dry leaf – FRUIT, NUT: variety of dried fruit (mango, strawberry, cranberry), Mexican hot chocolate, peanut shell, roasted peanut

Smell – SWEET: scented candle wax, dried strawberries, yams, carob

Taste – FRUIT, ROASTED SWEET: yam, carob, roasted marshmallow, caramalized sugars off of a baked sweet potato, waxy cranberry/green apple tartness in background, hints of papaya.

Well, this is different. Complex and various flavors run throughout this one. From the notes above, you can see how I struggled trying to pinpoint the flavors. Here’s why – this thing tasted like the smell of someone baking a sweet potato casserole in a room with a holiday scented candle. Figure that out. Perfect for sipping while you prepare an ACTUAL sweet potato casserole for Thanksgiving or something.

Fruity, caramel-y, savory, aromatic. Really a treat if you need to reinvigorate your taste buds with something different.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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Rating info:
100 – I haven’t found the perfect tea yet!

92-95 – So good that I will purchase this tea again, guaranteed. Excellent flavor and value.

88-91 – A tea that I would consider purchasing again at some point. Great flavor and value.

85-87 – Tea that was worth the purchase and that I enjoyed drinking, although I probably won’t be purchasing it again any time soon. Flavor may have slight drawbacks, or the price might be a little expensive.

80-84 – A tea that has some good points, but falls a bit short on its price:quality ratio. Flavor is a bit mediocre.

No rating – I did not like this tea and would not drink it, given other options.


Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

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