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Recent Tasting Notes
Sorted through some of my Taiwan Sourcing teas and grabbed a few to start working on sipping down. I have quite a few jasmine teas right now, so decided to dive into this one.
The absolute best jasmine flavor- sweet and floral without being perfumey or artificial. This tastes fresh and wonderful. Love the oolong base over the standard green base, as it allows the beautiful jasmine flavor to shine a bit more. Absolutely no bitterness- just smooth, clean jasmine.
The jasmine flavor also holds up against multiple gongfu steepings (up to 4 so far).
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Jasmine, Sweet
Found a sample of this in one of my tea drawers and decided to have a short gongfu session.
Smells incredibly salty and savory- like a bean stew. Tastes equally as savory as it smells, with an added roasty quality that is not as apparent in the aroma.
Because of the savory quality, I decided to use some of the leftover leaves in a recipe that I used to make often, but haven’t made in awhile. I crisped the spent leaves in some sesame oil and added them to a quick kimchi fried rice. So good.
Flavors: Beans, Cabbage, Roasty, Salty
This tea has been my favorite thus far from Taiwan Sourcing. For a charcoal roasted Oolong it tastes almost wrong. Instead of a roasted firm flavor you instead get heavy floral notes that fade to an almost amber. It’s a lovely tea. I was thrown off initially due to the stems in the bag, however after brewing and watching the leaves this is a beautiful full medium sized leaf tea that you could tell was loved from start to finish in my cup.
This is a perfectly tasty but not terribly exciting oolong. The flavor is that of pleasant, nondescript fresh fruit, with an underlying cinnamon sweetness characteristic of Taiwanese teas. The body is medium, falling short of a good Chinese TGY, and the astringency is on the heavier side for this style. I try not to let cost factor into my ratings, but this is a very pricey cha (I paid $33/25g), and the disconnect between that and the experience in the cup is disappointing. I would recommend this if you’re an oolong fan and can get it for a significant discount, but otherwise, there are plenty of more worthwhile purchases one could make from Taiwan Sourcing.
Flavors: Astringent, Cinnamon, Grapes, Plum
Is an Oriental Beuty Oolong by any other name just as sweet?
Yes, yes it is. This tea is beautifully honey tasting and floral. I have not had a Bug Bitten tea in a decent amount of time and this tea was a homerun. The floral notes I got during my first brew slowly faded to one of even more honey. Would recommend for anyone a fan of Oriental Beauty as it’s just solid.
Flavors: Flowers, Honey
This reminds me a lot of Mountain Streams Heavy Charcoal Roast.
This tea is good, however the problem I’m experiencing with it is it is not very full bodied. It’s quite mild in comparison to other roasted oolongs which kind of confuses me. The other flavor I noticed that is definitely different is tobacco, albeit that flavor is light. I brewed this tea western style for (on my current) fourth infusion. It’s possible I needed more leaves, but even then I don’t think so. The lack of depth on this definitely throws it from Recommend to not recommend.
The flavor on this tea is decent, maybe a slight nuttiness but not much. Decent astringency but almost no bitterness
This tea surprised me as I am not normally a fan of floral tasting teas. It reminded me of a pleasent spring walk through a forest. It had no roast notes, instead replaced with almost a fresh moss. Slightly astringent towards the end, slight bitterness as well.
I’m currently on my fourth brewing (Forgot to count this time!) Not exactly sure how much leaves I used and my timings were all over the place as I opted to not use a timer. I’d recommend this tea to anyone who likes the flavor, but I don’t think I would buy this tea beyond drinking this sample thereof
I had the 2020 version of this tea and did not care for it. The leaves are of decent quality and the aroma is pleasing, but the taste is overwhelmingly an almost acrid, fake coconut flavor- the closest thing I can compare it to is suntan lotion. I have encountered this sporadically in other oolongs, but never a dong ding. Disappointing.
A great oriental beauty that stands out is not easy to come by. This one has a relatively complex and mineral profile that distinguishes it. The smooth, velvety and a little heavy mouthfeel adds a nice softness to the permeating bitterness and drying sensation. The cha qi is warming throughout. I like the tea a lot, although it is not one I’d reach for too often.
As one would expect, the aroma has a string nectar vibe. Other than the sweet florals of fruit tree flowers, I also detect a woodsy eucalyptus, curry leaves, prunes, tulips, and savory.
The very first steep is very mineral and mildly sweet and bitter. It has notes of stonefruit and nut shells, somewhat like an apricot pit with a hint of pale ale. Subsequent infusions bring about flavours of wood, burnt food, eucalyptus and later on also various fruits and nuts. Aftertaste is long-lasting and numbing. It offers a strong tension between cooling and warming sensations, which is not quite resolved. The dominant flavours are sweet and woody.
Flavors: Alcohol, Apricot, Bitter, Burnt Food, Drying, Eucalyptus, Floral, Flowers, Fruit Tree Flowers, Fruity, Herbs, Mineral, Nectar, Nuts, Nutty, Perfume, Smooth, Stonefruit, Sweet, Wood
This is a somewhat simple tea in a sense. It is perfumy, has a syrupy texture and lasts for quite a while.
Dry leaves smell of a mix of wood and baked apple, while wet ones are more like eucalyptus and caramel. The taste is sweet and woody with a blue grapes flavour and a sugary aftertaste.
Flavors: Candied Apple, Caramel, Eucalyptus, Grapes, Perfume, Sugar, Sweet, Wood
At one and a half years of age, this green baozhong is definitely starting to loose its fresh notes. The aroma is warming and perfumy with notes of peach, rose and caramel. Honestly, during the session it mostly smells like a stale green tea.
The taste is a bit muffled and predominately sweet and vegetal. There is a juicy bite to it which reminds me of dandelions, but otherwise I can’t remember much about the tea :D
Flavors: Caramel, Dandelion, Peach, Perfume, Rose, Sweet, Vegetal
Warm Elephant is a fascinatingly aromatic black tea with very good longevity. The range of aromas is quite impressive with notes of black cherry, chocolate, wood, winter honey, tamarind, and caramelized onion in dry leaves. When wet, the associations are those of banana, cedar wood, medium roast coffee, vanilla, rice, and cranberries.
First infusion has some coffee sourness and mineral sweetness with a biting finish to it. It has full body with a sort of slimy mouthfeel and once again a very aromatic aftertaste with hints of hazelnuts and fenugreek seeds. Subsequent steeps show some woody (cedar) and fruity (peach) notes with even more sweetness and a lightly numbing and astringent mouthfeel.
I’d highly recommend this tea to any black tea lovers out there :)
Flavors: banana, Cedar, Cherry, Chocolate, Coffee, Cranberry, Hazelnut, Honey, Mineral, Peach, Rice, Sour, Spices, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood
As with many Taiwan Sourcing oolongs, this one doesn’t have enough going for it for me to be able to recommend it. With their tea, I find myself feeling that the storytelling is more interesting than the “experience in the cup” more often than not.
Dry leaves present a sweet creamy aroma with hints of brown sugar, cinnamon, root vegetables. During the session, it’s rather a mix of gooseberry, black locust flowers, and a grassy meadow. I also detected scents of celery and fermented fruits to some extent.
The taste has an unusual amount of woody bitterness which I find is not very well integrated. It also reminds me of hazelnut skins a little. Otherwise I get a decent plum sweetness and a vegetal finish which is a bit like fenugreek leaves. A residual lemon flavour shows up in the aftertaste too. The disintegrated nature of the liquor is underscored by its thick, cooling and a little rough mouthfeel.
Flavors: Berry, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Celery, Cinnamon, Cream, Elderflower, Flowers, Grass, Hazelnut, Plum, Sweet, Vegetal, Wood
I left this Spring 2020 tea “age” a tiny bit to let the roast settle for a while.
While drinking this tea, I totally forgot this was supposed to be a tieguan yin until I started writing this post. It’s totally unlike any other TGY that I’ve ever had — it’s totally unlike a roasted TGY and absolutely nothing like the greener floral TGYs
If I were blind tasting this, I would almost say it’s a gaoshan or a fruity dan cong. Because when they said this tasted like jackfruit, they weren’t kidding. I grew up eating jackfruit, which I like, so this was a pleasant and different experience.
It’s a very different flavor profile from other Taiwanese teas with a very different mouthfeel. It’s viscous from a short 10 second steep and continues on with its viscocity throughout the session. This tea loves hot water. But, no bitterness and only a very mild astringency at the back of my throat
The longevity of this tea is fairly acceptable, especially with the jackfruit flavors present. By the 4th infusion, the flavors were diminishing, but definitely present.
Total steeps: 4+ with grandpa brewing after
Steep Times: 10 seconds, 20, 30, 60, 90 seconds
Water: Temps from 200+
Tea: 5grams in 100ml gaiwan
Brew style: Gongfu
Photos and more detailed notes:
This is a subtly unique and fascinating aged tea. Unfortunately, as things tend to go, it is also the most expensive from the TS sheng samples I got. The cha qi is fast and warming. The tea also induces a long lasting mind clarity that’s just exceptional.
The liquor is soft and gives slightly fizzy numbing sensation and mild astringency in the mouth. The taste is very strong and pleasant with a sweet peaty profile. There’s notes of plants roots, parsnips, walnut shell, brown sugar, and wood. The aftertaste is likewise pungent and very protracted with an expanding fragrance and strong huigan. One interesting flavour that comes up early in the session is a sweet fruity one a bit like persimmon.
Aroma is not generally the key aspect of aged sheng. Here, there’s some very interesting ones though. It is elegant, nicely vegetal and nutty. Main notes are those of hazelnut, bread, beeswax, and dried dates.
Flavors: Astringent, Bread, Brown Sugar, Dates, Hazelnut, Nuts, Parsley, Peat, Sweet, Walnut, Wood
I drank my sample today and I found it very much in line with Nate’s experience, unsurprisingly. The tea is really very smooth across the board and has no mustiness at all. Ultimately, however, I also found it to be lacking that special something. I’m not sure, it may be a case of a tea that requires multiple sessions to be appreciated and to unravel its subtleties in full.
As for specific notes from my tasting, the first infusion was sweet with a vegetal finish and hints of cream, coriander seeds, and some char-like bitterness. The liquor had a buttery mouthfeel, at times a bit effervescent. The protracted aftertaste was somewhat spicy, but not overly distinctive.
I oversteeped the third infusion, which brought out some metallic sensation akin to a dark chocolate and tree bark flavour. Rest of the session didn’t present too many surprises, the tea got quite mineral at times with hints of dry earth and walnut shells.
Flavors: Bark, Bitter, Char, Coriander Seed, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Drying, Earth, Metallic, Mineral, Spicy, Sweet, Walnut
Taiwan Sourcing has some very nice red oolongs. This one is fairly subtle, but I like it a lot. The aroma is on the sweet and fruity side, while the taste is more woody and nectar-like. It remains quite sweet throughout though. There is also some warming star anise spiciness, chicory-like sour bitterness, and sweet potato earthy sweetness. The mouthfeel is a little astringent and bubbly with medium body and soft presence. Interestingly, the aftertaste stays warming for a while – it’s a good tea for colder rainy spring days.
Flavors: Anise, Astringent, Bitter, Cookie, Flowers, Fruity, Nectar, Sour, Spices, Sweat, Sweet Potatoes, Wood
I really like this one, especially after resting a few months in my storage after being shipped in harsh winter conditions. Smooth, deep, rich and sweet with hints of wild cherry, vanilla, old oak barrel, pipe tobacco and leather. Not much camphor or forest notes one finds in the burlier eastern Yiwu teas but a smoother affair. I realize that very few have tasted a 20-40 year old bottle conditioned English old ale/barleywine but there are several similarities. For a somewhat similar and possible to find beer experience I’d compare it to Fullers vintage ale only much less aggressive. Everything about this tea is mellow and smooth. The storage is very clean yet fully fermented. The qi is deep, relaxing and meditative. Not stupefying or jangling, just nice. Pure yin energy. A silk hammer of a tea. All the TS aged sheng are worth sampling (although many samples I’ve tried were dried out, astringent and in need of some rejuvenation opposed to the cakes) but this is my favorite of the bunch. Early on I preferred their 2000 Mansa but as I continue to live with these teas the subtle beauty of this one won me over. It’s very difficult to find a clean 22 year old Taiwan stored Yiwu for $.65g these days. This tea is a must try.
My impression of this tea mostly parallels Nate’s review. This tea is as good as the best aged shengs I’ve tried thus far, but it is a tad more expensive than those. It also seems to lean a little more on the sour and fruity side of the spectrum. I actually found the mouthfeel to be quite nice – plump and colloidal – especially in the first half of the session. However, the most memorable aspect is the fast, introspective cha qi for sure.
The one thing I found lacking in comparison to some other teas at similar and higher prices was the fact that after steep 6 or so, the tea lost most of its dynamicism and the session became a bit dull. Also, don’t expect an immortal tea, one can push it to get about 300ml/g, but not really more than that.
The taste is sweet and tart throughout, with a leathery and woody undertones. There are notes of sea buckthorn juice, cumin, fireplace, oak and citrus zest. Aftertaste is very long-lasting and not overly sweet. Indeed, the sour flavours linger for quite a while.
Flavors: Alcohol, Fireplace, Fruity, Leather, Oak, Sour, Spices, Sweet, Tart, Thick, Wood
Night Jade is a very warm, mineral, and nectar-like tea. My main issue with it is the somewhat light body. I am also not the biggest fan of the profile, but there are times when it would fit well. On the other hand I enjoy the super calming qi and the tea has a good longevity too.
The association that comes to mind when smelling the leaves is peach blossoms and beeswax. During the session I also detected aromas of mussels, hazelnut, cardamon, strawberry, and kale.
As I mentioned, the taste is mineral and nectar-like, but not very complex at all. There are notes of rapeseed, wood, berries, and caramel. The aftertaste is then quite sweet with a strong beeswax note and a mild cooling sensation.
In spite of the lighter body that doesn’t fit the tea well imo, the slightly effervescent liquor has a pleasant soothing and numbing mouthfeel.
Song pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9kGpx88MoE
Flavors: Berry, Caramel, Cardamom, Flowers, Fruit Tree Flowers, Hazelnut, Honey, Kale, Mineral, Nectar, Strawberry, Sweet, Wax, Wood
I had a pretty much the same impression of the tea as Nate described in his note. It is indeed a very clean and smooth tea with mostly woody character. Brewing the whole 10g in a 150ml gaiwan gave about 20 infusions, which was a lot to drink in one day, but at least it was the only tea today for me.
The aroma is comforting. It reminds me of wooden cabins, moss a lot, to a lesser extent also dungeons and apricot pie. Taste is sweet and woody with notes of cedar, forest floor, fireplace, and a camphor-like finish. Towards the second half of the session, I also found notes of sourdough, nuts, earth and garlic. Liquor has a medium body and a slick, slightly metallic texture.
Flavors: Ash, Camphor, Cedar, Earth, Fireplace, Forest Floor, Metallic, Moss, Nutty, Smooth, Wood