Camellia SinensisEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
This year I am trying to drink down a lot of my stash, but I still decided to get a few fresh teas, this being one of them. On the whole, it is a multi-faceted tea displaying a great deal of tension. It is warming and cooling at the same time, both sweet and savoury, smooth and astringent, fruity and vegetal, flowery and woody, etc. Such tea can get quite imbalanced which this one suffers from a bit, but not to a substantial extent.
The dry leaf aroma is nutty and floral. Once wet, I get multitude of scents, vegetal ones like spring onion and cabbage, fruit tree flowers, licorice mint, as well as hints of muscatel, cotton candy, gooseberry and incense.
Taste is floral and bitter with a caramel finish. There are notes of thistles, curry leaves, green beans, wood, eggs and others. Depending on the brewing parameters, the mouthfeel ranges from misty to creamy and there is a noticeable drying sensation in the throat. Aftertaste is quite pungent with a persistent vegetal bitterness akin to apple leaves. It marks probably the most imbalanced aspect of the whole experience.
Flavors: Apple, Astringent, Berry, Bitter, Caramel, Drying, Floral, Fruit Tree Flowers, Green Beans, Licorice, Mint, Muscatel, Nutty, Vegetables, Vegetal, Wood
Even though overall, this tea is true to its identity as a FF Darjeeling, its subtle notes at times give it a character of a green tea or jade oolong. This makes it fairly unique in some sense, without being truly weird or experimental.
The first sniff gives an impression of scones and green beans. Later, the aroma is more like a mix of eucalyptus and some flowers. The tea has a soft mouthfeel and warming presence, albeit the aftertaste gives off a cooling vibe that comes with its very flowery profile. The taste has a pleasant and decently strong nutty bitterness, some fruity notes of apricot and guava as well as savoury ones like black olives, butter and charred kale. In the aftertaste, a lasting milky sweetness appears too.
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Burnt Food, Butter, Eucalyptus, Flowers, Green Beans, Guava, Kale, Nutty, Olives, Vegetal
Bought this so I could compare to the 2003 7542 from mrmopar
This definitely tastes aged. I think Camellia Sinensis’s description is spot on. However, I do find the bitterness unbalanced. This 1998 is smoother, less drying and a little sweeter (almost whisky-like) than the 2003 but not as strong with the camphor. Maybe the type of storage and 5 years more of age have transformed the acidity I get in the 2003. This tastes more humidly stored and verges lightly alkaline. The body is nothing to note; I don’t recall noting it in the 2003. Qi is calming and warming, caffeine isn’t very high — I can fall asleep without issue if had in the evening. After 3 or 4 infusions, the qi urges me to take a break. Over the next several infusions, the power is gone and the tastes devolves into bitter, peaty swamp water.
Overall, it’s ok, the feelings elicited are nice and early infusion taste good but I feel like it’s missing the depth needed to make this a very good aged tea. For the price, I pass but it is worth trying.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Bitter Melon, Campfire, Camphor, Drying, Earth, Peat, Petrichor, Resin, Smoke, Smooth, Spicy, Wet Rocks, Wet Wood, Whiskey, Yeast
[Spring 2021 harvest]
I was excited to try a sample of this tea, expecting something different, at least. When dry, it smells of nuts, meat and chard. On the other hand, wet leaves have a very distinctive cabbage aroma.
First infusion is quite savoury and nutty with a mild bitter bite and honey sweetness. The flavours have a a good depth and the mouthfeel is very velvety with no astringency. The protracted aftertaste starts off juicy, buttery and warming, eventually a bit of vegetal sweetness appears from the bitterness though.
Subsequent steeps are pungent, vegetal and floral (still like honey, but without the honey sweetness) with a hint of spiciness and some astringency appearing too.
I don’t know if I’ve ever had any tea that you could say is truly a “yellow tea”. It’s certain is that this one is unlike any other tea I’ve had. It’s a bit hard to describe in what way though. Most of the specific aspects can be found in other teas, but the manner in which they come together is certainly unique. Also, the strong cabbage aroma is quite memorable.
Flavors: Bitter, Butter, Dry Grass, Floral, Honey, Meat, Nutty, Vegetables, Vegetal
I’ve had previous iterations of Camellia Sinensis’ Li Shan and enjoyed them, so I picked up this spring 2020 harvest in their September sale. I’ve had it three times now and have gotten slightly different flavours in each session. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of brown sugar, coconut, spinach, honeysuckle, and lilacs. In the first steep, I get lilac, sweet pea, gardenia, butter, coconut, grass, spinach, and pastries. It has a nice, viscous texture. The second steep is sweeter, with custard, cream corn, green apple, and honeysuckle. Steep three offers more honeysuckle/gardenia/other florals, particularly in the aroma, and the veggie, grass, and spinach notes become stronger. (I also got pineapple in previous sessions, but sadly, not in this one.) The next couple steeps display more of the cream corn sweetness, which I guess could be interpreted as custard or condensed milk. The tea is also still very floral. The steeps become more vegetal after this point, but with lots of floral sweetness to balance them out.
This tea is full of florals and is sweeter than many Li Shans, with some of the tropical fruit flavours I like when I leaf it heavy. I agree with Daylon that it’s kind of midrange, and I also prefer their less expensive Shan Lin Xi. Still, I might pick it up again if it’s on sale, simply because of the relatively reasonable price and the convenience of buying from a Canadian vendor.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Butter, Coconut, Corn Husk, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Honeysuckle, Pastries, Pineapple, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
X is for… Xiao Zhong!
I actually had a few X options to pick from for this day, but they were all pretty hyper traditional teas and I didn’t really end up having time during my work day to brew up more than just this one with the care I felt it deserved.
I did make this Western style – but I feel like it came out really well! It’s very chocolate tasting to me, but really dark chocolate with a healthy amount of bitterness to it. I know Camellia Sinensis describes this as a bit vegetal, but I didn’t get that all. Aside from the dark cacao/baker’s chocolate type notes, I mostly got a bit of a smoky edge, some red bean, and a woodier/oak-y backbone to the sip. Full bodied, complex even as a Western brew, and just very rich with a long lingering finish.
Cannot wait to brew this Gongfu – I feel like I’m gonna have some high expectations now.
This second flush is from 2020, which makes it relatively new in my tea collection. It caught my eye because Camellia Sinensis noted it was representative of the style, and even though I’ve had many SF Darjeelings, I still look for benchmarks of what they’re “supposed” to taste like. I steeped 4 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 5, 7, and 10 minutes.
The dry aroma is of caramel, nuts, and flowers. The first steep has notes of autumn leaves, nuts (yes, hazelnut seems accurate), caramel, butter, wood, flowers, saline, and a hint of muscatel. The finish is rather woody and drying, especially if the tea is held in the mouth for any length of time. The tea also has some tannins. The next couple steeps are heavier on the nuts and caramel and lighter on the fruit and florals. I get some minerality in the third steep.
This tea is a good deal more restrained than the luxuriantly fruity, floral second flush Darjeelings I gravitate toward. However, I think it is indeed a high-quality, well-made example of the type, if not one that really wows me.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Butter, Caramel, Drying, Floral, Hazelnut, Mineral, Muscatel, Nuts, Salty, Tannin, Wood
2021 sipdown no. 81
I’m working on a sipdown of this because I enjoyed it when CS first sent a sample, but since I ordered 50g I am over it, sadly. It seems to be all malt and nothing else.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, it’s a fine tasting tea. I’d just prefer other straight black teas from CS.
Giving the remainder of this one to Lex’s mamma for her enjoyment.
Only have three samples left from the Leafhopper trade. Again, thank you!
I was debating on what I wanted this morning, and since it’s a crisp spring day, a slightly autumnal or floral Darjeeling would probably go well with it. This note is going to be shorter than my usual verbose nonsense because I decided to do this western.
I emptied the entire sample in my french press that I do not actually press, and let it sit between 2-3 minutes. I sipped a little pour to see how it would play out, and it was sweet floral and savory, a little nutty, but thin. After a full brew, I filled my mug. Same descriptors apply becoming more specific: orange blossom, butter, roasted and salted nuts, and a savory but very woodsy finish. There was a little bit of cocoa in the notes, but not a lot and the tea was definitely not malty.
Second brew had much the same notes, but woodsier and nuttier. The finish was pretty drying but not quite as flavorful the first time, so I stopped there.
Looking at Camellia Sinensis notes, they make more sense. Caramel, “saline” notes, and hazelnut are the more vivid descriptors, and they actually amped up the woodsiness on their flavor wheel. I haven’t totally agreed with some of the other flavors they’ve described before applying different approximative adjectives for the same thing (supercalifragilisticexpialidocious), but I agree with their assessment this time. I will say that saline does make it a little bit more fancy than just “salty”. Curse negative connotations.
Either way, the mix of floral, sweet and savory components were nice, and what I like about Darjeelings. I’m not sure if I’d buy more due to me using the big bucks for my outrageously expensive usuals, but I would say yes every time I’d be offered up this one. I think it would be a nice entry for straight second flush teas, but I wouldn’t add cream AND sugar to this one since it is on the fainter side, though some sugar might be nice. It made my morning anyway.
Flavors: Butter, Cocoa, Drying, Floral, Hazelnut, Nuts, Orange Blossom, Salt, Savory, Sweet, Wood
Q is for… Qimen Hong Gong Fu!
…and, as the name would imply, I brewed this one Gongfu!
I didn’t take great notes for this one because I had it while at the studio over my lunch break and I was a bit rushed – but I enjoyed it a lot and was impressed by how many infusions the leaf seemed able to take. Definitely a longer session than most Qimen I’ve had in recent memory. It was super smokey (but in a natural way, not a “smoked tea” way) with these delectable woody top notes & a jammy stonefruit undertones peeking out. It’s hard to find a good Qimen, but this was solid.
[Spring 2021 harvest]
Marvelous looking, delicate leaves with lots of hair here. It’s an exceptionally elegant tea with a silky full body and a resolute chest warming cha qi.
Initially, I get a nutty, floral and meaty scent which becomes vegetal later – a bit like chard.
The taste profile has vegetal backbone reminiscent of thistles and fiddleheads, as well as some floral and tart carambola notes. Subsequently, protracted sweetness comes to the fore, while mild vanilla and black pepper notes linger in the background.
It’s not a cheap tea, but a fresh green tea of this quality is hard not to appreciate for me.
Flavors: Black Pepper, Floral, Sweet, Tart, Vanilla, Vegetal
Got this as a free sample with one of my orders. It’s got a sweet woody profile with notes of stonefruits, licorice as well as some floral ones. The mouthfeel is plump and the aftertaste quite cooling. In the aroma, I could detect oak wood, fermented vegetables, and flowers.
All in all, a decent and agreeable tea that’s easy to drink.
Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Licorice, Oak, Stonefruit, Sweet, Wood
[Spring 2021 harvest]
Fresh green teas are always something to look forward in the spring (if one can get hold of some). Even though this one isn’t the most remarkable one, it certainly satisfies that need.
The profile is quite vegetal with floral, umami, sour and herbaceous notes trailing behind. Some of the flavours to be found are eucalyptus, alfalfa, lilac, kohlrabi. In the aftertaste, a mix of lime and green wood sweetness emerges. The liquor texture is velvety thanks to the large amount of leaf hair present, but it also has a nice bubbly quality. After swallowing, a minor drying sensation remains, but there isn’t really any astringency. The aromas are hard to describe. Some of the notes I’ve already mentioned – such as lime zest and eucalyptus – but there is also a scent that reminds me of moss covered in dew.
Flavors: Alfalfa, Citrus Zest, Eucalyptus, Floral, Flowers, Lime, Moss, Pleasantly Sour, Sweet, Umami, Vegetables, Vegetal, Wet Moss
[Spring 2021 harvest]
CS’s Zhu Ye Qing is a beautiful tea that’s both crisp and surprisingly warming for a green tea. It is well-balanced with sufficient complexity, pungent aftertaste and a relaxing cha qi.
The aroma is very fresh and vegetal (cucumber, broccoli, leeks) with just a hint of cream. Taste is a mix of nut oils (walnut), sweet grass with a nice bitterness (chicory) to it. There is no astringency basically. Other flavours on display include rice, sunflowers, green beans, and rapini. Liquor has a medium body and a buttery texture, which is really quite nice.
Flavors: Bitter, Broccoli, Cream, Cucumber, Green Beans, Leeks, Nuts, Rice, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Vegetable Broth, Vegetal, Walnut
This tea has an invigorating dry leaf aroma, but it didn’t leave a strong impression at first otherwise. However, I found myself reaching for it fairly often afterwards, so there is something attractive about it. I guess the fairly light body and a good balance of sweetness and woodiness make it an easy-to-drink tea without the need for much engagement.
Initial scent is sweet with hints of cookies, popcorn, cocoa, and chickpeas. It gets less pungent during the session, and the range of aromas is more in the neighborhood of charcoal, forest floor, and moss.
First infusion is smooth, sweet and milky with an upfront cocoa taste. There are also some fruity, vegetal, metally and woody flavours. Later steeps are somewhat tannic with a short-lived bitterness.
Flavors: Bitter, Char, Cocoa, Cookie, Forest Floor, Metallic, Milk, Moss, Popcorn, Sweet, Tannic, Vegetal, Wood
J is for… Jin Shuan
Thank you Roswell Strange for the share! I am having this while eating Wendy’s and watching Drag Race. It’s an odd combo since I don’t usually have tea with my meals and if I do, it’s usually cold and picked to go with the meal. This just sort of worked out to be the accompaniment to my meal.
It’s smooth and a touch metallic. Some roastiness. It’s also quite buttery. It doesn’t stand out among other oolongs but it’s a solid option. Also works with the meal better than I expected it to.
Really interesting flash steep one that keeps giving for days. I was a little concerned it would be tricky to brew, but flashing the hot water when I’m not paying attention was fine and it gave me plenty of variety in flavor.
While a bit sharp and bitter with it’s char, it’s got a pretty complex character that meshes smoke with some bright red and orange fruity elements amidst water stream minerals. My brain likes the combo because it gives me a lot of sensual output in my imagination, and adds atmosphere while I play Ghost of Tsushima. I know they drank Matcha and most teas were green from the Kamakura period, but the constant onslaught of rain, mountains, sunsets, fire and smoke vibe with this one.
Getting into more precise lingual abstractions of taste and smell, the flavor of the first cup came up with a note I very rarely taste in natural teas: goji berry. I got general fruitiness from the dry leaf, but it was not as pronounced as it was in the cup wet. It was after 10 seconds, but it was rich, a hint floral( orchid-it was not too obvious), incredibly honey sweet, and then finished with nice wisp of smoke in the finish.
Second steep amps up the minerals and the roast bordering on salty, but remains fruity broadening into gooseberry and tropical fruits like guava with the biting acidity of grapefruit. More steeps had more gloshes, and I amped up the steeping time to a minute in steep five, but it was too bitter, so I returned to quick flashes. The flavor improved, and while it had some sharp bitterness that was a little bit more floral, the denser notes of the fruits and charcoal remained.
Currently, it’s leaning more into fruity acidity, but the midtaste is kinda grainy and woodsy reminding me of dried bamboo. Leafhopper nailed the hops and grain.
I’m going to end the note here. It reminds me a lot of David’s Teas old Supreme Oolong they used to sell because of its mineral, fruit smoke “mead” combo. I really liked this tea, but I don’t see myself drinking it often because it can become pretty harsh even with flash steeps gong fu. I do think it’s a lot easier to brew than some dancongs that will take a lot longer to coax some flavor out of since this is consistently amped up in aroma and flavor even in the later steeps.
Definitely a more intermediate to advance drinkers tea that like flavor. As for rating, it’s a tossup between 84-87 for me. It satisfies my needs for what I like in Dancong, though I wouldn’t drink it often due to its sharpness. I’m really glad I got to try it. Thank you Leafhopper!
Flavors: Astringent, Bamboo, Bitter, Char, Charcoal, Citrus, Dried Fruit, Drying, Goji, Grain, Grapefruit, Guava, Honey, Mango, Mineral, Salt, Smoke, Tropical, Wood
Interesting one. Heavy florals and flavor bordering on soapy.
Trying it out intuitive gong fu, the smell was super heady from the wet leaf. It tasted and smell like Orange Glow, and funny enough, there was some pleasant dark woodsiness in the aftertaste in a buttery texture. The second was still floral, bursting with orange blossom, honeysuckle, orange, tangerine, apricot, sweet potato, with some slight bitterness. I’m actually a little overwhelmed right now. Third, the smell is super breadsy like a fresh bagel, or sourdough like Leafhopper mentions. I’m glad I shortened the steep time. The Apricot +orange combined really nicely.
Next few steeps will be shortened, and I will return in a little bit….
I’ve got a few more notes I need to make up…
So after I took some Jasmine on my way to getting the Ghosts of Toshima, I had a little bit of a caffeine Euphoria. Getting back to this tea, 15 seconds, and orange syrup coating sweetness, yams, and some florals giving me a little bit of a headache. The leaves still smell good, but I might have to switch to my more milder ones tonight as I power through some notes and historical gaming.
I feel bad that I’m stopping on this one, but I think I got what I needed to from it. This is my kind of black tea, though a little bit strong in caffeine and florals, even for me. This is the kind of tea I would drink if I was taking things slower, but definitely a tea to drink in the morning on the weekend when I’m not quite awake, and have enough time to be careful and to take in the aroma. I think it would be good for newbies who like citrus as they get into straight teas, and are getting into teas like Earl Grey or Jasmine as a novice reference. However, it could be overpowering, and it looks like I was not the only one.
I’m personally rating it 80, though I think it’s between the 75-85 range in terms of quality to price. The big reason I’m rating it lower is the headache from the HEAVY citrus florals.
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Dark Wood, Floral, Fruit Tree Flowers, Honeysuckle, Orange, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Pastries, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
Dirty quickie note before I do some gymnastics tomorrow morning.
Thank you Leafhopper! So, the site is surprisingly sparse on the description of this one, and cranks up the floral profile on their tastometer. I’m sorry, that was too American of me: “flavOUR wheel.”
Onto the tea-it’s good. I gong fu’d it in my Manual Tea brewer (essentially, a gaiwan with a double walled glass vessel) in a rinse. Mostly green, and soft. Texture is oily as expected.
First steep after 25 sec, honeysuckle, lettuce, a little bit of apple skin, though crisp more than fruity. Boomin aroma.
Second steep, 35, more floral, a little lighter, but still refreshing with the lettuce. Gardenia.
Third after 25, gardenia and honeysuckle dominant aroma, more florals in flavor, lettuce, green bean in a short aftertaste. Aroma is more pronounced than taste.
Fourth, honeysuckle, lilac, some greens.
Fifth, more green. A little bit of lime, but mostly green and viscous.
6th, florals, spinach. I lost attention while helping my brother out with his college paper.
7th, flash steep, osmanthus aroma, osmanthus in the taste, but a little grassy.
Mini-reflection- good one. I am already biased, and like Shan Lin Xi from the company more. Tea is very smooth and nicely vegetal, but I personally could use a little bit more flavor. Mid-tier in my personal Lishan rankings so far, upper middle tier for overall teas. Definitely liked it. I need to do another quickie not before I come back to this one, and then off to bed for muscle up tomorrow.
Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Green, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Osmanthus, Spinach, Sweet
2021 sipdown no. 65
This started out okay. I mean, it wasn’t my favourite. There was the mineral taste with not much that I could specifically pinpoint in the background. But as the tea cooled it got more and more bitter. I was watching an interview and was quite engrossed and still the bitterness cut through.
I wish I went into this one blind so I would not write notes based on the power of persuasion. My allergies are also just getting to me in the middle of this snow filled spring day on April 1st, so April Fools. But I am starting the day with one of my favorite kinds of tea.
I brewed this up in my gong fu to go, 5 oz. Ish, and doing it 25, 30, 35, and four more flash steeps. First brew was light, creamy, and crisp. I got lettuce, coconut, butter, and nuttiness. Second steep and later steeps in this half of the session were dominated by the Macadamia for me, and the viscous texture reminded me of almond milk. I did get the weird cherry note, but it wasn’t obviously cherry. It was more subtle like cascara, or coffee cherry. Maybe fresh cherry is better.
There were also more florals like plumeria, which bloomed in steep three, but dissipated. I think that’s the vanilla note the site mentions, but it’s too floral and subdued for me to think vanilla. The recent florals have leaned more vaguely in the honeysuckle and hyacinth (how many times have I mentioned that one) direction, but the tea is overall creamy, like “Fresh, creamery butter…”
The leaves were getting trapped, so I gave the tea a bigger vessel, and just did 8 oz. I tasted a little bit more mango in hints, really more in texture. Coconut, butter, nutt approximations of macadamia and almond, and then wheat grass.
There’s more to go, but I’m not sure what else to add. This is an especially creamy and nutty Shanlinxi that I like. Without my kyusu, which has been broken and disposed for a few months, I’ve been kinda limited in my larger gong fu sessions. It could be why I feel like I’ve missed things in recent gong fu sessions, or I could just be rushing them too much like an assembly line as time itself fades into yesterday, minute by minute in this limbo of a spring break.
But hey, I have tea for my existential moments. As for my usual general audience blurb, this is great for the price and one of the better Shanlinxi’s I’ve had. I still prefer to get some from my usual stops, but I do recommend this one. I think it’s best for intermediate drinkers since it might be too vegetal for super newbies, but it’s a great one to introduce people to high mountain teas and Shan lin xi. I’m also going to hold off on rating it for now until I get more from this session. I’m slowly getting more pineapple now than I did before, especially as it cools off.
Few hours later, and I’m ready to rate it. It’s higher tier for price to flavor ratio, and it’s very durable. I wish I divided it into one session for gong fu, and the other for tumbler fuel. 88-90 is the number range I’m feeling. I really like it.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Cherry, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Grass, Lettuce, Milk, Nutty, Pineapple, Spinach, Sweet
I’d assumed that this was a wuyi before reading Leafhoppers note, but the sharpness and minerality was Dancong. I was also a dummy with this one.
The dryleaf was very fruity, and reminded me of kiwi and salted grapefruit. I dumped the entire sample in my Gongfu2go tumbler, was going to flash steep it-until-I ignored it while cooking. 35 seconds, and it’s sharp, tart, mineraled, sweet, and bitter. Kiwi, grapefruit, minerals, honeysuckle, and a sour finish. A bit too strong, but something I could enjoy and work with.
I did too more flash steeps; one last night, and one this morning. The second steep was stronger with grapefruit for me, and again, a little bit too bitter and sour. The third steep needed a transfer of vessels, so I put it in one of my French Presses-NOT PUSHING DOWN THE PRESS OF COURSE (barbarians) for more room. Kiwi and more sour fruits. The tartness is a lot more balanced this time, with some mineral.
Now, another steep, 25 ish seconds, and more florals than fruits alone. Still sharp, but lilies, jasmine(or osmanthus?), again, honeysuckle, salt, char, fruit, and acidity. I can partially see peach, but it would be a younger peach. It’s still more kiwi to me with its tartness.
I could probably push this one, but it’s a bit tart for my preferences. I ignored wisdom in using more leaves than I should have, thus I get the session I have. Dancongs being tart or bitter is nothing new for me and why I either love them or dislike them. This one is in the middle. I personally liked the roast, and did not find it to be too prominent. I was more distracted by the acidity. I’m glad I tried it and it ranks as a tea in the variety I like, but it’s just okay overall since it was personally too sharp.
Flavors: Bitter, Char, Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Grapefruit, Honeysuckle, Melon, Mineral, Pleasantly Sour, Salt, Sour, Tart
2021 sipdown no. 63
This one has that mineral flavour that I find oolongs get, but there’s also a lovely maltiness cut through with hints of floral here that adds a nice depth.
The second steep has just slightly dulled flavours, but it allows the maltiness to almost come neck in neck with the mineral, which was nice.
1st steep 4 minutes
2nd steep 5.5 minutes
I’m happy to have tried this one, but that mineral flavour just isn’t my favourite.