135 Tasting Notes
The dry leaf smells like caramel gone a bit off. The brew smells and tastes like autumn leaves – not much holly flavour is detectable compared to lighter-processed yaupons I’ve tried. The odd caramel-like scent does not translate to the taste of the brewed yaupon.
While the leaves float on the surface of the water to begin with, after absorbing sufficient fluid they uniformly sink to the bottom of the cup, making this very suitable for grandpa-style brewing.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile
The taste of chrysanthemums is stronger than the taste of shou. It has some sweetness, and is overall a harmonious combination of flavours. Not much aroma. The flowery taste blends well with the smooth mushroom-type flavour of the tea.
Flavors: Flowers, Mushrooms, Wet Wood
Nice roasty taste. The dry leaves smell quite roasted; the wet leaves smell surprisingly mild. It has a bitter aroma. The flavour is mineral and full, slightly tannic, and warming.
Despite being roasted quite darkly, the oxidation level is indeed quite low, and the tea behaves closer to green tea than red/black. Initially, I brewed it at a high temperature, as I usually do for oolong teas, and it was overly bitter. I dropped the temperature to around 80C and it improved dramatically.
Flavors: Grapes, Mineral, Roasted, Tannic
This tea smells like a good cigar. The leaves are whole, somewhat varied in darkness of brown colour. It has a sweetish aroma and tastes kind of tobacco-ish as well, but juicier. The texture is slightly thicker than usual for a black/red tea. I like it! It’s definitely more complex than I’d expect from a breakfast tea (as those usually focus on strength), and better balanced than I’d expect from a blended tea.
Flavors: Smoke, Spices, Sweet, Tobacco
One of my favourite teas. Appearance-wise, it’s very twiggy, with a whole lot of ‘golden flowers.’ The taste and aroma are pretty strong, honey-like and mildly sweet. Later steeps brought out tart and fruity flavours, including an almost kiwi-like taste. It’s very well-priced for such a complex and enjoyable tea!
Flavors: Honey, Melon, Tart
This took a long rinse and two (very hot) steeps to fully ‘open.’ Once it did, it was mild and warming, not too funky at all, and overall a very gentle tea. I enjoyed it. The age of the tea was definitely detectable.
Flavors: Dust, Earth, Forest Floor, Honey, Leather
Weird and funky. While it has a classic mushroom taste, it’s not overwhelming. There’s definitely a strong taste of earth as well. The tea leaves are a bit ‘dusty,’ so it’s best to pour them over a fine strainer if that bothers you. I’m not sure I’d recommend this to most people, but if you’re looking for something different, it’s definitely worth a try.
Flavors: Dirt, Earth, Mushrooms, Spicy
Smooth, slightly bitter, with a vaguely grapey taste and a mild ‘aged’ feel. It’s not that amazing, but it’s a very nice shou for daily drinking, and complex enough to work well if you’re in the mood to analyse a tea as well. Very full-bodied.
Flavors: Bitter, Grapes, Mushrooms, Wet Earth