Silk Road TeasEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Starting with a 5-second rinse and a 45-second steep. Slowly making my way through all of my open green teas. I don’t turn to green tea often, so they tend to accumulate while my favorite black teas get picked time and time again. Turning to Oh, How Civilized yet again for tips on making a good cup. I normally steep longer so maybe that’s why my green teas typically turn out bitter.
2020 Lot, but drinking the last of it now January 2021. Back in 2020 Silk Road Teas did a tea Zoom in which they featured three different teas. Dragonwell, Silver Needle, and this one. The Black Fragrance I am currently drinking is not labeled, nor does it say kung fu on the page anywhere, so I’m assuming they changed the name. I was going to make a page set aside from this one and label it, Black Fragrance – Hei Xiang – Rare Lot, but because they are the same farm, same nameish, and same processing I figured it would be better to compare notes here. This is one of those teas that you could rate simply based on the price. Price-based ratings are, in my opinion, not the true opinion though because you could really not like it but force yourself to say you do because of how expensive it is. That being said even without knowing the true price still thought this one was stellar and I am grateful to be able to taste something that is not exported out of China, generally, (I guess though now we can say it is? Albeit in tiny, tiny batches.)
Because I bought this in a Zoom package I didn’t see the original price so my opinion wasn’t influenced by it. My initial reaction was it was good but had way to many hay notes. Fresh hay is fine but I’m not really a fan of those hay in stable notes, though I did have a silver needle from Ceylon the other day that was very good with those notes.
This time around I’m smelling clean earth. The flavor still has those farm hay notes but I realized after a few sessions that I liked this one best within a minute of steeping. It then revealed light molasses and sometimes brown sugar. The mouthfeel is very soft with no astringency.
SkySamurai’s mystery advent tea #3 – backlog from 12/16
The leaves here look very much like Dragonwell to me – flat and wide! The fragrance of the dry leaf at first was sweet then somehow became very vegetal, almost like sauerkraut which I don’t really like. But this was an odd association with this tea. The flavor is fantastic – a very high quality green – smooth, sweet, creamed corn, hints of veggies (but luckily no sauerkraut.) A great green. The second steep is extremely sweet and creamed corn! My guess is still very much Dragonwell green. Was I correct? Yes.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons // 45 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 35 minutes after boiling // 2 min
SkySamurai’s mystery advent tea #2 – backlog from 12/15
This is an interesting one – it almost looks like the lighter tea from yesterday, but with a darker leaf. Like a black silver needle – big and fuzzy leaves with maybe a hint or two of gold. The scent of the dry leaf is like lychee but also with that aroma that keemun has that I can never describe. I was debating on using two teaspoons, but went with one. However the flavor is very light and the brew looks light as well. But the flavor definitely seems like keemun and definitely not lychee. My guess is that it’s a very fancy big leaf keemun! Sadly I prefer the less fancy (cheapy!), very dark and strong keemun. Was I correct? NO. I have never heard of “Black Fragrance” so there was no way I would guess this one. :D I wish I had liked this better. Maybe it needed more leaf.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon // 20 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 min
SkySamurai’s mystery advent tea #1 – backlog from 12/14
These mystery teas will be a treat. I’m actually writing this on 12/14 but can’t post until I look at the paper and know what the tea is. Thanks very much SkySamurai!! This looks to be a very fuzzy leafed green or white tea. The aroma of the leaf is sweetly vegetal. I probably should have done a rinse with such a fuzzy leaf. I haven’t had one of these types in a while! The flavor is like cucumber tea sandwiches. Cooling to taste like clear minerals, a field of hay. The second steep is more minerals and a hint of creamy lemon. The brew color of the tea could almost be a normal mug of water. It’s very good today and I’m happy to have steeped this today. I remember mostly having this type of tea from Teavivre. My guess: a silver needle white. Was I correct? Yes.
Steep #1 // 2 loose teaspoons // 40 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 35 minutes after boiling // 2 min
Very nice puerh, I’ve been drinking this almost daily. Great in a teapot and delicious in the gaiwan with a 20 second steep for 2 or 3 times. Brewed stronger and/or in the first steep: rich red hue and cocoa nib like flavor. Candy cap mushroom and slight earthiness while still being very clean.
Flavors: Cacao, Cedar, Earth, Licorice, Mushrooms, Wood
Brewed my last mini tuo of this grandpa style in a 16oz mug. I think I got 3 refills on top of the original pour. Good strength for 4.5g of shou.
This reminded me a lot of a freebie no-name mini tuo I picked up from the SF Tea Fest, offered by Imperial Tea Court. This one, though, was a different shape: classic birds nest vs the flat puck from ITC. I bought a small handful of these Camel’s Breath from bulk tea section at the co-op.
Dark, smooth, oily and briny, lots of leather and barnyard. There was a distinct finish to this tea, something almost gamey-musky or cheese-like in taste. Sounds gross but it complemented the brininess very well. I feel like I should be working in a horse barn at the edge of coastal cliffs when I drink this. Spent material reveals no fannings only finely chopped leaf. Daily drinker type of tea.
Flavors: Barnyard, Fur, Leather, Salty, Smooth, Umami
It’s done, it’s done! I have tasted and written a note about all of the teas in my Steepster cupboard! Huzzah!
And I’m still on track to make my sipdown stretch goal for February. Now, of course, I do have about 16 pu erh samples left to taste and maybe one or two random others. But when I started this taste-everything-in-the-cupboard adventure, it seemed incredibly daunting. And now it’s done.
And this tea is an interesting note to end on. I didn’t have it listed in the cupboard until last weekend when I discovered I hadn’t put it in there. And there is precious little information available about it online.
I had thought it was a sheng because of the “greencake” reference, but then when I opened up the cake, I found a Menghai Tea Factory description of Yunnan Chitsu Pingcha inside. When I Googled that, I was pretty sure it was a shu.
The cake itself didn’t give away much when I sniffed it. It was sort of that chocolate tree thing, but not clearly so — and it could have been earthy mushroom just as easily. If I was more of a sophisticate with pu ehr, I probably would have gotten clued in through the leaves, which were big and broad and flaked off the cake easily.
But after rinsing at boiling and letting the leaves rest 15 minutes, I went ahead and did the first steep as a shu, at 10 seconds.
It was then pretty easy to figure out this was a sheng. Lighter colored liquor than the espresso color of shu, rather an orange-gold (apricot? amber?) color, and a definite rich, buttery, caramel-espresso note in the aroma.
The first steep was pretty intense because it was 10 seconds rather than 5. Thereafter, I backtracked, and did 5/5/7/7/10/20/30/40/60 in the gaiwan.
And now I believe I am experiencing what it is like to be a little tea-drunk. Tipsy, really. I’m a little light headed after 20 steeps of sheng between this and the last. A weird, but pleasant feeling.
This is a tasty tea — actually I find it very similar to the last one I had today in terms of flavor, but without the fruity note. It is also less astringent, and has a really nice sweet aftertaste, which is what the note inside the wrapping said it would have.
I think I’ve become a pu erh convert, though honestly, I think I am far less likely to be forgiving of a pu erh I don’t like than any other sort of tea. The ones I’ve enjoyed are really enjoyable. The ones I haven’t are…. well, among the worst tea experiences I have had.
Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Earth, Espresso, Mushrooms, Smoke, White Chocolate
Happy Chinese New Year all. :D
Classic aromas, classic taste. Interesting name. I like it lol.
It has a super dark liquor, thick and almost looks like black syrup. The taste though was surprisingly mellow although rich, full-bodied. I was apprehensive at first looking at it. It’s smooth, earthy, mushrooms, little sweetness, typical fermentation notes, light leather. No fishiness, no bitterness. Lots of flavor throughout, no serious change in notes from steep to steep, just steady and pleasant… But am stopping here, for now, it’s 2 a.m. hehe
Yixing gaiwan, mini tuocha, 212°F, 110ml, rinsed twice, 6 steeps: 5s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 35s
Thank you Derk! :D
Flavors: Earth, Leather, Mushrooms, Smooth, Sweet, Wet Earth
Is this black tea exciting? Not really.
Is it appreciated by my Red Rose loving parents? Yes, it absolutely is.
This one might be perfect for casual black tea drinking when you don’t want to break into your fancier and frillier stash, as well as for guests who want tea but aren’t used to loose leaf or who think the title “Yunnan Pure Bud Golden Snail” is a bit intimidating to start.. Although, I find the Snail wins people over regardless of their prior concerns and biases (such an amazing tea; why is it not in stock and why am I on a tea buying hiatus?).
Flavors: Floral, Grapes, Hay, Malt
Finished off this sample with another go at gongfu, this time using 4.5g/212F/6 steeps and also a western steep with 3g/195F/2 steeps.
For gongfu, the boiling water didn’t seem to effect the tastes at all. In terms of texture, the astringency was not effected and the liquor thickened up some. The tea did open up quicker, this time on the second steep. The leaf can steep for upwards of 10 minutes for the last few infusions without developing off flavors. I’d suggest brewing this tea at boiling instead of the Silk Road recommended 195F.
Western was a wreck though at 195F and the most dominant quality was that tartness in the back of the mouth that’s also prominent in tieguanyin oolong. Not something I appreciate shrug
Dropping the rating. It just doesn’t do it for me.
5g, 100mL teapot, 195F, no rinse, 5 steeps of 30/45/60/75/90s
Somehow this sample I picked up form the bulk tea section of the co-op ended up in a jar at home that formerly housed onion powder?!? You can guess what the dry nuggets smelled like :/ They weren’t entirely cloaked by that odor and I could smell some toastiness underneath. Warmed leaf also smelled toasty.
The onion powder scenting didn’t come through in taste. The tea was pretty mellow for the first 3 steeps with light toasty, peachy, honey and fruit flowers tastes. Clear tawny hue, light-bodied with some astringency. Aftertastes were also light but hung around for a while. Not much aroma. With the fourth steep, the flavors really came forward with additions of apricot, lemon, minerals, wood and cream and some fluffy lactic acid tartness around the salivary glands. Fifth steep and it was done.
Given that the tastes didn’t really open up until the fourth steep, I’m thinking this tea might do well with a longer western infusion. I’d also like to increase the temperature to see how the tea responds, hopefully without gaining more astringency.
Flavors: Apricot, Cream, Fruit Tree Flowers, Lemon, Mineral, Peach, Tart, Toasty, Wood
The pearls have a lovely light jasmine scent in the tin.
After steeping, they make a very pale yellow liquor that is clear, and smells deliciously of juicy jasmine flowers.
The flavor is mild, but a lovely jasmine that has some juiciness to it and isn’t painted on or at all artificial tasting. The tea has no bitterness, and adds a nice greenness to the flavor without in any way dominating it.
And it goes really well with leftover turkey.
Flavors: Green, Jasmine
It turns out I had to leaf it harder.
Western again: 4g this time, 8oz, upped to 205F, 2 steeps at 2m30/4m.
The dry leaf, which I didn’t mention before, is very chopped and isn’t too fragrant but does smell of bittersweet chocolate and berry. The brewed tea is deeply orange-red and very evocative of autumn. It still smells like lipstick, red wine, malt and citrus (orange?), now with an addition of oats. Tastes fruitier than with 2g and the oat and citrus in the scent come through in the mouth. Still also has a note of autumn leaf. The most noticeable differences are a moderate mineral tone and slight touch of bitterness that give the tea some depth.
It’s decent daily drinking material. I’m out of it now but there’s still some tweaking to be done with the brewing parameters.
I have no idea if this is the right tea. I purchased some Silk Road Teas ‘Keemun’ from the bulk section of the co-op. Usually the co-op labels the teas thoroughly but I couldn’t find plain old Keemun on the Silk Road website so I’m dropping this here.
With that out of the way, prepared western with 2g, 8oz, 200F, 3/5m, this tea tastes like the smell of lipstick, autumn leaf and some berry. Smells better than it tastes with notes of red wine, malt and citrus. Actually, the aroma kind of smells like lipstick, too. I happen to like the smell of lipstick but can’t say I enjoy drinking it.
I think I have to play around with it more and adjust the rating accordingly.
Moving through the teas I picked up yesterday.
3g, 60mL, 195F, flash rinse followed by 8 steeps at 10/15/20/25/30/40/50/60s.
The dry leaf smelled kind of light with notes of spinach, white floral, cream and sugarcane. The liquor started quite fragrant and was light- to medium-bodied with toasted rice, a brightness like citrus and some astringency. The second steep (lol I said belied – removed) suggested the flavors of the rest of the session with buttery toasted rice and corn, tartness, a slight metallic tone and a pretty strong aftertaste of buttery cooked peaches/apricots and generic sourness that lasts. Bottom of the cup scent of sugarcane. The astringency and tartness continued to grow to unenjoyable levels, so I cut it off after a 1-minute brew.
This was my first Mao Xie and could be my last but I’ll have no problem finishing the rest of the bag since it’s a small amount. I guess I’m just not too much a fan of rolled Chinese oolong, but somebody who appreciates their profile more than I do might also enjoy this one.
I need some advice from green tea drinkers on what to try next. What’s your go-to green tea these days?
I’m getting a little excited because I’m pretty close to having at least tasted all of the green teas in my stash. Not counting matcha, that is.
Of course, that doesn’t mean I’ll be sipping them all down any time soon, but it does mean I can start thinking about what I might want to get more of and what else I might want to try.
I’d love to have input on what I ought to try when I’m close enough to order, which should be in the next few months at this rate.
So again I ask — what is your go-to green tea? What shouldn’t I miss when I come out of lock down?
I have been enjoying the Silk Road teas in my stash. This one has a sweet, hay-like fragrance in the dry leaf that replicates itself in the steeped tea’s aroma. The tea is golden yellow and clear. It has a sort of rosy tint that is interesting.
The tea has a vegetal flavor that reminds me of asparagus. I just had some for lunch, and it was amusing to be reminded of my lunch so quickly after drinking this tea. I swear, it was funnier than I made it sound.
The aftertaste is nutty, a little like raw almonds.
It’s a gentle, happy green tea.
Flavors: Almond, Asparagus, Hay, Sweet
Almost to the bottom of another green tea, so getting in a first tasting note for this one. Law of conservation and all that.
The dry leaves smell like hay, or dried grass. It’s a much more appealing smell than it sounds.
After steeping, there’s a lightly nutty fragrance. I am getting no grass, no vegetal scent. The tea is a medium golden color and mostly clear.
How can a tea with so little aroma have so much flavor? Isn’t the sense of taste like 90 percent the sense of smell? I’m surprised, in a good way.
But what does it taste like? That is the hard part. A little nutty, a little vegetal. The nutty flavor is mild, like Brazil nuts. The vegetal flavor is also mild, and not anywhere near the juicy vegetable run off flavor. I’m not sure it’s asparagus. Maybe more like a flavorful lettuce.
It strikes me as the kind of flavor that will grow on me over time.
Flavors: Grass, Hay, Lettuce, Nutty
In the tin, this has a naturally sweet smell and a darkly vegetal one as well that is quite rich and appetizing. A bit like spinach, but with an interesting spicy note.
At my standard green tea temp, this yields a pale yellow colored tea, with a sweet green pea smell. I might try this a tad hotter — the label suggests 185F instead of 175F. Next time.
The flavor is lovely. A general sweet, vegetal flavor without tasting like cooked vegetable run off. It has a nuttiness that tends toward almond.
Looking forward to trying this again slightly hotter to see what that does.
Flavors: Almond, Nutty, Peas, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal
Sipdown no. 68 of 2018 (no. 424 total).
Tried the last of this this morning at a lower temperature (185F) and a shorter steep time (4 minutes).
Prepared this way, it’s a completely different tea. Virtually colorless liquor, very little aroma, and I can’t taste much other than hot water and the chocolate muffin I had for breakfast.
I don’t know why this comes as a surprise to me (but it does). It’s typical of my experience with white teas. Unless I steep them like herbals, I get a big fat nada.
Continuing with the breaking open of white teas that I’ve had for a while but never before opened or tasted, given that I’ve at least tasted most of my unflavored black teas to the point where it’s hard to dig out the last few untasted ones.
I skipped right to the steeping method I used with the Silver Needles from Tea Trekker — boiling at 7 minutes. I noticed that everyone else who has written notes on this tea has steeped at a lower temperature and mostly for less time. I have a lot of this so I’ll be able to try different methods.
The dry leaves smell earthy and a bit odd, and plastic-y which I suspect has nothing to do with the tea and everything to do with the container it was in.
After steeping, there’s still some earthiness but none of the weird drowned plant smell that I sometimes get from plain white peony. Instead there’s a kind of a sweet, honeydew note. The color is light gold and clear. As a side note, steeping at low temps often results in colorless or near colorless white tea for me, and I feel comforted by the fact that higher temperatures bring out some color in the liquor. It’s probably just psychological, but it makes me feel like the tea is going to have more flavor.
The flavor is a bit plantier than the aroma and there’s a quality to the flavor that reminds me of trees. More leaves than wood, but there wasn’t a leaves flavor option.
I’ll experiment with it more, but I have the usual white tea problem with this one. I’m not sure I am tasting it as it was intended to be made. In the past, I’ve not considered plain white peony particularly tasty or interesting though I’ve had some nice blends with it as a base. That’s true here, too. I preferred the silver needle, once I was able to get any sort of flavor out of it.
Flavors: Honeydew, Wet Earth, Wood