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Recent Tasting Notes
Wow! This smells great once the leaves are rinsed. It smelled great before that, but I digress.
A syrupy sweetness, akin to a good craft IPA in the beer world invites the nose.
1st Infusion – 2:20 or so (I let it sit too long)
That scent carried right over to the brew. Roses, orchids. What do orchids smell like anyway? I should get my nose into some if I’m going to mention them all the time in tasting notes. Light and flavorful with a syrupy honey sweetness through and through to the finish. Lots of hui gan, I had to wait 20 min between infusions and I just wanted to get the second gaiwan steep done already, it was so tasty.
2nd Infusion – 2:00
A bit of dryness/astringency comes in at this infusion, but the pleasant sweetness is still very present. I’m quite enjoying this tea. Will loosen my notes up a bit now.
3rd-4th Infusion – 2:00-2:30
Stepped the time up by half minute increments to get more out of the leaves as the water ran clearer. There are more woody notes in these later infusions. The flowers are in the background but still around. The middling body has a little bit of astringency but is smooth overall.
5th Infusion – 3:15
I’m probably going to stop after this, the leaves have yielded all of their sweetness and are turning to a bit of sharp astringency. Not a put-off really as it tastes more like a nice sheng than something coarse.
6th Infusion – 3:30
Against my better judgement I dumped more water into the gaiwan. I was returned with a nice mild tea after a long steep time with clearer notes on the flavors above. I would probably stop at 4 infusions or go with a higher leaf to water ratio to get more out of my session.
Flavors: Astringent, Flowers, Grass, Honey, Pancake Syrup, Smooth
Spring 2014 Harvest.
Quick wash, Gongfu style. 195F
Wet leaves are stewed vegetation, there are some masked floral notes in there somewhere too.
1st Infusion – 20 Sec
On appearance, this looks a little light. Perhaps I should have rinsed twice and allowed the leaves to open up. Of course, my tea set is a deep blue so often with light teas I don’t get much opaqueness in the cup. Super light flavor but the pleasant floral smell with some vegetal base notes.
2nd Infusion – 30 Sec
Here comes the color, and hopefully a fuller flavor. Nice, light, refreshing. No bitterness or astringency. The bottom of the cup has more body but it’s a nice mellow flowery vibe. A little bit of sweet syrup on the finish. I’m wondering if this is still fresh, just tastes a little mild. If I had more leaf I would up my ratio.
3rd Infusion – 60 Sec
I would rather overbrew so I’m kicking the time up. Orchids, veggies, and syrup. There’s a little more body but it still feels thin overall. The slightly dry finish is present.
4th Infusion – 75 Sec, 205F
While brewing this, I noticed the sweetness lingering on my tongue from the last infusion. Very nice. It’s a light and clean brew overall, but just a little lacking for me. I’ve had better Oolongs. It’s smooth and delicate, but tastes past its prime.
5th Infusion – 90 Sec, 195F
I’m going for a 6th but I will bump the steep time significantly.
6th Infusion – 150 Sec, 195F
A bit more body with the higher steep time, still light and vegetal/crisp. I’m getting a bit of kale through. Astringency has moved to the throat for a dry finish, but the tongue feel is still creamy/sweet.
7th infusion – 200 Sec, 195F
Light and vegetal, I’ll note next time just how long this one can steep without getting bitter or astringent, just a little dry on the finish.
Not bad, not outstanding: but pleasing, nonetheless. On to the next.
Flavors: Kale, Orchid, Vegetal
Nothing like the first aroma of a bag of freshly opened tea. Granted it doesn’t compare to smelling it fresh off the processing line. But the mineral and floral scents emanating from this bag are pretty fantastic. I will be steeping this gong fu style. Thus will not be adhering to the 3 mins rule. Though from my first sip I can tell this one will need a bit longer in order to release all the precious flavors. The second sip at a minute revealed floral notes, gardenia, and a few mineral notes. I’m now 2-3 mins and getting wet rock notes, popcorn, and tropical floral notes. Overall, its a decent oolong but I feel that I’ve had better and the amount of infusions you get from this one is not much.
The wet leaves in the teapot smelled very strong. Like a heavy mineral scent. In my cup, the tea tasted more mellow and light. Almost a tiny bit floral with hints of cream. The taste of the tea is close to a Ali Shan or Dong Ding with notes of cinnamon bark giving it a woody flavor. Tastes pretty smooth!
Flavors: Bark, Cream, Floral, Mineral, Smooth, Woody
Sadly this tea was a disappointment. It didn’t taste anything like Ali Shan… it tasted like a very weak, faint, low-grade green tea with barely any flavor. The wet tea leaves had a strange scent almost like a musty smell as if the tea was old and stored away for too long. This was supposedly harvested in winter 2021 but it tasted really old and something was off with it. Even the dry tea leaves didn’t smell overly strong and rich like they are supposed to. I only brewed it once and it tasted like it would on its last brewing. Absolutely no flavor. Not sure if I received a dud or I did something wrong but I brewed it how I usually do an oolong. 185F for 3 mins in my 3-cup clay teapot.
Flavors: Green, Musty
Here we have a pretty uninspiring but drinkable 12 yr old puer with Taiwan aging. It’s a blend of ripe & raw. Not fishy or dank, pretty clean tasting. Not astringent, little bite, faint aroma. Steeped up as a bright golden infusion that has some complex woody notes and a lingering finish. Found a 1-cm black round seed floating in the pot. I enjoyed my 10g sample but wasn’t compelled to buy a full cake which is good since the cakes are now sold-out.
I am currently working on drinking the last few portions of a Winter 2020 pick of this tea. Storing in jars must be the way to go, because this tea is still flavorful! The first time I bought this tea, I bought a smaller amount first, realized I would want more, and immediately bought about 150g, hoping it would last me a year. It sure did, with plenty to spare!
This was one of the first oolong teas I ever tried. At the time, I was a green tea junkie and just wanted something new and different, but still definitely green tea, around. This fit perfectly. It has the staple buttery, boiled spinach green tea taste up front, with a tone of something floral in the mid and after taste. It’s the right amount of floral, not so much that I’m drinking perfume, but enough that I can almost tell what flower it is. Unfortunately, I live in succulent land, and the amount of flowers I can recognize is slim. My immediate thought is jasmine tea. This has a similar, milder floral property as jasmine scented green tea my family likes to order at dim sum restaurants.
I’ve had this tea for a while, and experimented with different temperatures. I like 185F (85C) which is the “white tea” setting on my electric kettle. (Side note, so far I prefer boiling water for white tea.) I brew 20 seconds to start, plus 5 seconds per infusion, this tends to be perfect and lasts me up to 6 infusions. I could go longer, but I don’t like to push my green tea until it’s flavorless…
The wet leaf smells like cooked and salted zucchini, boiled spinach, and flowers. The liquor smells exactly the same. It has a slippery, buttery body, and an accompanying flavor of a lightly salted stick of butter. Afterwards, there is some astringency, but no bitterness. A taste that reminds me a lot of eating or licking raw dark leafy green vegetables (swiss chard?) lingers on the tongue.
I’d say this is definitely one of my favorite green teas of last year. I will treasure every bit of it, until it’s time to rotate it out for something new. I leave here a stunning review in hopes that you might try this tea, because it’s delicious and deserves to be known.
Flavors: Astringent, Butter, Jasmine, Salty, Spinach, Umami
Well… this tea was a hot item 5 years ago. As it happens, my stash of this came from summer 2016 too, but it’s been stored sealed for years. And NOW it tastes strongly of honey and is just lovely. I’m glad I bought more recently and I’ll follow up here when I tuck into that! Very pleasant and non-astringent.
Flavors: Honey, Yams
I bought this sometime in 2017 and agreed with the other tea notes here at the time. I was new to Puer and was sorely disappointed that I had a full cake of the stuff that I couldn’t abide. But time passes and The Dude abides… and the tea ages and mellows (in dry storage, being shunned). Now in 2021 it is 29 years old, has a lovely fragrance, the compost odor is gone, and I have been brewing and sipping it with happiness. Gongfu, but cheating with a steel strainer, and easily going 12-14 steepings (4 g in 4 oz boiling water). I wasn’t particularly delicate when breaking up the cake, but I did find some complete budsets and larger leaves, along with many bits and pieces. The photo I posted of spent leaves in a saucer is a representative sampling, while the smaller ramekin features some of the other largest pieces—all from today’s 4 g portion. Tastewise, the tea isn’t very complex. Mostly bass notes of wood, leather, and smooth sweetness, with no astringency whatsoever. No smokiness, no fishiness either. And today I steeped LONG to make dark, thick cups that were easy to swill. Thanks to BTTC for encouraging tolerance and patience. I have already bought a second cake despite a jump in price!
A real good Taiwan-stored Pu’erh, and only the first steeping had hints of earthy compost and fresh fish. Then it was smooth sailing through sixteen steepings of lovely, sweet, aromatic and tongue-pleasing tea, ranging from deep dark walnut to red oak to light copper in colour. Mine was a sample-size gift from BTTC last year, and I don’t know if it’s still available. You can see how the starting dry leaves differ from the spent leaves after the 16th brew in the photos I’ve posted & close-ups. I would buy this as a routine morning tea if I could get more!
I usually prefer heavily oxidized teas, so sometimes Taiwanese oolongs are not to my taste, but I enjoyed this one quite a bit. The first few infusions as the leaves open up are a little green for my taste in a roasted oolong, marked by notes of cooked vegetables, but the later infusions bring out the fruit and nut flavors I was looking for. I would love to see how this ages, I think time would bring out that really nice ‘sour plum’ flavor while mellowing out the roast.
Flavors: Caramel, Chestnut, Plum, Spinach
A mellow black tea with moderate body, a sweet aftertaste (which reads more ‘fruit’ than ‘honey’ to me, but I’m splitting hairs here), and a lingering coolness in the mouth characteristic of Taiwanese black teas. I was surprised but pleased by a pine sap note that reminds me of zhengshan xiaozhong. I think the sweetness would be appreciated by both new and experienced black tea fans. Enjoyable either in a teapot or a thermos, but I advise leafing moderately heavy or else the flavor is rather thin.
Flavors: Peach, Pine, Sweet Potatoes
I’ve been trying not to get too interested in high mountain oolongs because of the cost, but this one weakened my resolve :) The leaves open up quickly in the teapot, accompanied by a jasmine-like aroma, much more floral than the liquid tastes.
The most prominent tasting note for me is butter, almost too strong except that it’s balanced out by a floral and nutty aftertaste. Very different from my usual fare, but delicious, especially at this price.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Jasmine, Popcorn
I got this tea with my unfortunate teapot purchase late last year, so I assume it’s from 2019. It was kind of Beautiful Taiwan Tea to include a sample. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of sweet cream, flowers (osmanthus?), cookies, and vegetables. The first steep has notes of cream, butter, orchid, osmanthus, custard, veggies, and grass. I get artichoke and bok choy in the second steep, along with a subtle fruitiness that I can’t pin down. The fourth steep makes me think it might be honeydew. The creamy notes fade as the session progresses, and the floral, honeydew, and vegetal notes take over. Even at the vegetal end of the session, there’s a nice sweetness.
This is a solid Jin Xuan, and while it isn’t my favourite type of Taiwanese oolong, I enjoyed it, especially the surprise fruity note.
Flavors: Artichoke, Bok Choy, Butter, Cookie, Cream, Custard, Floral, Grass, Honeydew, Orchid, Osmanthus, Vegetal
Thanks to eelong for sending me a sample of this and reminding me that classic flavor is classic for a reason.
This is black tea, with the faintest, barely discernible hints of muscatel and chocolate. It is exceptionally smooth with zero tannic acid. I found myself immediately wanting more once I was done with it— not my usual reaction to a tea with a more or less one-note profile, but Wild Boar is not bland or simple. It is stalwart but refined. To me, it brings to mind the image of an old sea captain— enduring, stoic, and pointedly what it is no matter how it’s framed.
(This smells a bit salty in the bag, which may be where that comparison hails from. . .)
Point being, this is what should be at the heart of a good black tea and, unlike some more nuanced varieties, is not going to fail you even if you brew it tired and half-wrong. Good enough to drink contemplatively, faithful enough to drink when worn out and in need of something that gives more than it takes.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Muscatel, Tea
I’ve tried this hot and cold brewed and it was fantastic both ways. It’s not a complex tea by any means, there aren’t subtle notes and hints of different flavors that peek out from the body. No, everything is sublimely blended into a perfect black tea. It’s incredibly smooth and easy to sip at any temperature. The flavor is a lovely chameleon that suits any mood and any season. Nothing like the other wild blacks I’ve tried. Really, really enjoy this; especially for $4 an ounce!
I wasn’t sure how I felt about fermented teas without a floral note to cover up some of the flavor when I ordered this. But at $18 for a 3.5 ounce brick, this seemed like a safe way to try out unadulterated pu’erh without shelling out $100 for a ripe 400 gram chunk with some age to it.
Well, after taking a whiff of it in the bag, I’m hooked. It smells like a gently dampened forest floor, woody and organic with a whisper of sweet fallen leaves. There’s also some detectable dirt, but that’s not an unpleasant note, surprisingly. When you saturate the tea with boiling water, the aroma turns into what I can only describe as the scent of vivarium—clean soil and mulch that slowly steeps in the intense humidity. The taste is what you would expect from the dry scent: woody, earthy, and overall pleasant. Very, very smooth. Nothing fishy about it, no astringency, no biting edge from an excess of tannins. A touch of sugarcane in the aftertaste with a gentle minerality. It’s like a tasty and polished version of the liquid you get from boiling dried oak leaves on the stove to make leaf litter for a blackwater aquarium. I’m sure there are better fermented teas out there, but I’m in love with this stuff for the time being.
Flavors: Bark, Earth, Mineral, Smooth, Wet Wood
From the Oolong group buy: Another charcoal roasted oolong. Another tea that will be unloved by my palate. All I can taste is the roast and sour nuts. Not an appealing flavor combination. The roast has mellowed somewhat, but I still can’t taste the tea.
Flavors: Nuts, Roasted, Sour
10g sample weighed in at 10.8g. Decided to brew gong fu first, using 6.8g.
Dry tea looks nice, large-medium sized balls but quite a lot of dust and tiny pieces. Dry aroma is subtle light floral.
Gong fu style:
Filtered tap water at full boil, quick rinse.
1st infusion, full boil, 30 seconds. Aroma is light, sweet floral and vegetal. Aroma of wet leaves is honey and osmanthus. Tea flavor and mouthfeel all typical of high mountain oolong: osmanthus, honey, slightly vegetal and a long sweet finish. But not tasting anything magical like the best (supposed) Li Shan or Da Yu Ling teas I’ve had. Still, a very nice tea.
Cutting this review a bit short – subsequent infusions were very similar. It’s a very nice tea with a very nice long sweet finish and I don’t doubt them when they say it is from the 95k marker in Da Yu Ling. And very fairly priced at $34.99/56g. But we’re getting above the $5 per gong fu session mark and given the quality of some of their other less expensive teas I’m not sure I’ll be ordering a larger quantity of this one. It really is nice though. Still tasting that sweetness.
Flavors: Honey, Osmanthus, Vegetal