Taiwan Tea Crafts

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Recent Tasting Notes

79

I added this tea to my massive TTC order because I was intrigued by the stonefruit and citrus notes they described. They also mentioned that they made Bai Hao, one of my favourite teas, from this cultivar. The first time I made this tea, I accidentally steeped it like an oolong (25/20/25/30, etc.) because it was early in the morning and my brain wasn’t fully online. This time, I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

Dry, these long, dark leaves smell like honey, raisins, apples, and peaches. The first steep reveals the typical notes of cinnamon and sassafras found in Taiwan black tea, along with raisins, honey, malt, apple, tannin, and a hint of peach. There’s a good balance of tangy peach/apricot/raisin and honey in steep two, plus that sassafras note. The third steep leans more heavily toward apricots and peaches, and the citrus makes a welcome appearance. Cream, wood, and malt become more noticeable in the next couple steeps, though the other flavours are still strong. By steep seven, the citrus and stonefruit are almost gone, leaving raisins, malt, sassafras, wood, earth, and tannins.

While it is not mind-blowing, this is a very drinkable black tea that has many of the flavours I enjoy. I’m getting a bit tired of its amorphous raisin/stonefruit/tangy profile since I’ve had a lot of teas featuring it recently, but that’s more my fault than the tea’s. I’ll have no issue finishing my remaining 15 g and recommend it for those looking for an easy-drinking experience.

Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Cinnamon, Citrus, Cream, Earth, Honey, Malt, Peach, Raisins, Sarsaparilla, Tangy, Tannin, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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71

Not usually a fan of heavily roasted teas, but they’ve occasionally surprised me and in the interest of expanding my tea horizons, I decided to pick up a sample of this tea.

It does indeed have a deep roasted flavor and aroma. You can taste the roast but it’s not smokey by any means. I get notes of firewood, pumpernickel bread, and toasted nuts. These are ancillary though and the tea is predominantly dark and toasty

This may appeal to those who like dark tea but I prefer the subtle caramel taste of lightly roasted oolongs.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Fireplace, Nuts, Roasted

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Sipping away on this one now and getting a mix of floral (somewhat reminiscent of jasmine but it’s not jasmine) and honey. However, the scent and taste are exactly the same, which is neat!

I seem to prefer the second steep of this one, but I’ll have to experiment with different steeping parameters.

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I had this one over the weekend and saved the leaves for a second steep, which was my first cup of tea this morning. Work is off to a rough start this morning, but here’s to tea making it better!

I actually preferred the second steep to the first, though the first flew by without much memory. This morning this had a very faint cardboard quality that I often get in oolongs, but not in a negative way. This was paired with a nice hint of sweetness, especially as it cooled.

First steep 3 minutes
Second steep 4 minutes

I also may have edited my Bird & Blend order to add more teas before it ships…:P

Cameron B.

MOAR TEA!

Courtney

Hahah right? Oh my goshhhh. I already have no space and I just tidied the tea cupboards over the weekend!

Cameron B.

Tidied… meaning you made room for more tea! ;)

Leafhopper

I’ve never Western steeped a Gui Fei, though if it’s the same one Derk and I reviewed, it’s not much of a loss. Glad you enjoyed it!

Courtney

Thanks! How do you steep them normally? I only do Western steeping, but perhaps one day I’ll branch out. :)

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88

Sample sipdown!

Used the remainder of my sample to steep up a big ol’ mug of this to sip on during an all-day virtual workshop (ughhhhh). At least the election is looking better (in my opinion), yaaaay!

What a lovely cinnamon-butter-toast tea this is. And I really like the balance in body as well, it’s heavy enough to give a nice chewiness and sense of satisfaction, but still very easy drinking with zero bitterness or astringency.

Nommy nommy toasty tea. I’m sure I won’t order from TTC again for quite a while given my current cupboard situation, but this will definitely be on the list when I do.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Honey, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Toast

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 14 OZ / 414 ML
jessiwrites

Dang, this sounds fantastic!

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88

Cracking open my sample of this after seeing a recommendation from Courtney. I made an order of sample sizes from TTC a while back, luckily they’re all sealed or vacuum sealed, so I’m sure they’ve held up marvelously.

Dry scent was a dried fruit explosion, some sweet and sticky but also with pops of tartness.

The steeped aroma is quite different, all cinnamon and creamed honey. Yummy. The honey and cinnamon are also present in the flavor, thank goodness. They meld perfectly with the soft bread note to make me think of thick homemade wheat bread toast slathered with creamed honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. There’s also a lovely sticky dried fruit note, so perhaps a touch of fig jam as well.

Yummy, sweet, fruity, bready, cinnamony tea. Breakfast in a mug! ;)

Starting with a conservative rating until I’ve had some more Taiwanese blacks to compare this to!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Toast, Cinnamon, Cream, Dried Fruit, Fig, Honey, Raisins, Smooth, Sweet, Thick

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Courtney

Yay! So glad you enjoyed this one. :)

Cameron B.

I love Taiwanese black teas. :D

Courtney

They are the best! My favourite for sure. I’m always on a quest for them.

derk

Cameron B.: Taiwanese blacks tend to have a distinct lack of heavy malt which I find absolutely intriguing and complementary to my tastes. I hope you do explore them more!

Cameron B.

@derk – I love their rich honeyed fruit notes. I have a small pile of sealed TTC samples, but I’m trying to sip down some open teas before I allow myself to open anything else! :P

Courtney

The honey is the besttttt. I have their Golden Dragon Black Pearl Oolong (lot 799) that’s also tasty (much more like a black tea than an oolong)!

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My sample remnant of this is actually from Lot 712, but there is no entry for that and I don’t want to make one just for my pitiful note, and I’m not going to rate this anyway. Steeped this Western-style in a big mug.

I’m going to agree with what derk said about this a few days ago, the roast is too strong and it overpowers any other flavors. I remember Gui Fei I’ve had in the past being much more complex, with honey, fruit, and floral notes. This one is mostly just the roast.

That’s not to say that it’s not pleasant to drink. It has a comforting houjicha-like flavor of autumn leaves and roasted grain. I catch a bit of clear sweetness and perhaps a suggestion of honey coming out at the end of the sip, but otherwise it’s rather one-dimensional.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Grain, Honey, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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89

Sipdown (278)

This was the oldest tea in my stash. It’s from Sil from back in September 2017. Thanks for sharing Sil! but no commenting on how old my teas are!

This one was so good and so fruity. Unfortunately I don’t remember specifics because I had it while steepster was once again acting up. I just know it was so delicious!

Cameron B.

OMG, so old!

Just kidding, all of my teas are old. T.T

Mastress Alita

I swear I’m going to actually start a “Steepster is Borked Again” counter for 2021.

Leafhopper

LOL! It could be a Wikipedia page! Also, I wish my oldest tea was from 2017.

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49

Tried the last of this brewed at 1g:30mL instead of the usual 1g:20mL and at 195F to attempt to mitigate the overwhelming roast.

I did enjoy it more, even though it wasn’t as complex and had a thinner body and very mild aftertaste. It was still very nutty with supplemental notes of thin wildflower honey, vanilla, sandalwood, ginger, orange zest and orange blossom. The roasted taste was much lighter. The taste-texture devolved pretty quickly into this very particular astringency and bitterness, neither of which sits right with me.

Revoking the “Not Reccomended” status. It’s not a bad tea for the price (of the newest lot), just the nuttiness is too much for my tastes. Also, maybe I’m spoiled but I do expect more longevity before encountering the impassable astringency and bitterness.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Flowers, Ginger, Honey, Nutty, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Roasted, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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49

And yet another tea courtesy of White Antlers. Thank you :)

The session starts with a thin, brown sugar sweetness and a hint of vanilla. Really strong roast, so much that most of the time I taste mostly roasted nuts, roasted barley and brown toast. Past that I can taste apricot, peach, orange blossom honey, and orange zest. Strong mineral taste and tingles, light apricot and orange blossom aftertaste. In subsequent infusions, the fruitiness and sweetness are overtaken by malt, wood, straw, astringency and bitterness tasting much like a washed-out black tea.

Unlike LuckyMe, I didn’t find this oolong to be easy-drinking. The roast easily dominated the session for me. The leaf seems temperamental, unforgiving. Then again, I don’t have a finessed hand. I thought with the level of roast aroma in the dry leaf that I would brew this with water off the boil; based on the unfavorable results, the next session I will try with lower temperature.

Not recommended… for now.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Brown Toast, Fruit Tree Flowers, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Nuts, Nutty, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Peach, Roasted, Roasted Barley, Roasted nuts, Straw, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Leafhopper

I steeped it at 195F and I think I had a slightly better experience, though I also found it to be overly roasted.

LuckyMe

Sorry this one didn’t work out for you derk. I underleafed quite a bit so that could be why mine tasted less roasty.

derk

Did you brew it in a teapot or grandpa style?

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88

**I had mistakenly added this tasting note for the wrong tea, so I’m correcting now.

Backlog.

This is one of the teas from the great Steepster freeze of 2020 that I’m getting around to logging now. My memory is a little hazy because I only had a couple of sessions with it, but I remember it being a solid SLX with the usual alpine florals and tropical notes. A little lighter and lacking the full mouthfeel of previous harvests. Good for 6-7 steeps.

Flavors: Coconut, Flowers, Tropical, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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81

Though I don’t often opt for Jin Xuan teas, this one was recommended to me as fruity so I gave it a try. It’s from spring 2019. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of milky sweetness, grass, honeysuckle, and other flowers. The first steep has that note I interpret as cream corn, plus honeysuckle, orchid, other florals, spinach, condensed milk, and grass. The next steep introduces heady gardenia and coconut, and is great! However, this tea is almost too sweet. The next couple steeps are more balanced, with corn, coconut, cream, custard, spinach, arugula, herbs, and those heady flowers. The next two steeps are similar, though with more spinach and sweetness and sadly less coconut. The trend toward spinach, grass, and other veggies continues in the next few steeps, though the condensed milk sweetness persists.

This is a rather nice Jin Xuan whose coconut and floral notes I appreciate. The sweetness, however, is slightly overwhelming. Given its price, I’d consider buying this tea again.

Flavors: Coconut, Corn Husk, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Milk, Orchid, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
White Antlers

This sounds like a beautiful tea for a late summer evening.

Leafhopper

Indeed! I drank it late on a fall afternoon in my overheated apartment, but you’re right that it would be good for summer.

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100

I absolutely love this tea. It’s sweet, floral, and full of incredible honey flavor. If I could only drink one straight tea for the rest of my life, this would probably be it. My brother and his friend came over for vegan Thai the other night, and I made this for them post-dinner. It was such a treat. Having it again this morning, because I couldn’t resist. It’s also extremely cost efficient, which I appreciate.

Flavors: Floral, Honey, Sugar

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75

sipdown, small sample for variaTEA left so she can try a few things

VariaTEA

Thank you :)

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Thanks so much, derk!  I kind of ruined this one though.  I don’t know what happened.  Maybe the water needs a filter change.  Possibly used too many leaves, not realizing how much a white cake would expand.  But the flavor was bitter all the way through.   Hints of lemon in the second cup, but then bitter again.  I was VERY tame with my steeps, so I don’t know how this was so bitter. Then there were some strong chemicals being used in the house that smelled very strongly, so I didn’t want to risk ingesting these weird chemicals that may have floated onto the damp tea leaves for a third steep, so I sadly had to discard the leaves.  I wouldn’t have bothered to even write a note for this, but now it’s gone, so I had to write something to acknowledge the sad ruining of this tea.  Both by user error and possibly chemicals.  mrgh. I won’t rate this one because it doesn’t seem fair. Derk’s tasting note said ashmanra had more success with this one, but I say derk had more success than I did. AND I’m even more sad about it because ashmanra’s note says this is the white counterpart to Ruby 18… I love Ruby 18 so I would have really loved not to ruin this one.
Steep #1   // 47 minutes after boiling  // rinse // 1 minute steep
Steep #2  // 47  minutes after boiling //  1 minute steep
2020 Sipdowns: 77

eastkyteaguy

I have a lot of trouble with Ruby 18 white teas too. I know that they are starting to gain in popularity, but I have not been able to get into them. I have difficulty getting consistent results each time I try to brew some. I feel like I’m just missing something and have to be doing something wrong. I don’t know what I could be screwing up though.

Dustin

That’s how I feel about oolongs. It’s rare that I find one I like and watching people really get into and enjoy them make me feel like I’m missing out. Not sure where I’m going wrong!

tea-sipper

Thanks for the reassurance that this type is finicky — it makes me feel a bit less badly about ruining my sample.

derk

Sorry you had a bitter experience!

tea-sipper

Certainly not your fault, derk! :D

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76

I’ve always meant to order some of TTC’s Gui Fei, but demurred due to mixed reviews. Thanks, Derk, for the generous sample. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of honey, baked cinnamon bread, and fruit leather. The first steep has notes of honey, baked bread, grass, and stewed fruit. The next adds autumn leaf pile, apricot, raisins, and slight astringency, though the honey is still the star. In steep three, sandalwood, cinnamon, and a bit of roast emerge, and the autumn leaf pile flavour is stronger. The fourth steep is a lott less sweet, with roast, wood, pine, autumn leaf pile, grain, and honey. By the sixth steep, the roast is really asserting itself, accompanied by black tea-like minerals and malt. The session ends with nuts, honey, minerals, and roast.

While this Gui Fei is quirky and enjoyable, as LuckyMe pointed out, it’s more like a Dong Ding than a honey oolong. I might still pick this up, however, because it’s so affordable, but the strong roast detracts from it being truly amazing.

Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Grain, Grass, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Nuts, Pine, Raisins, Roasted, Stewed Fruits, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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70

finished this one off today. a good cup but i’ll stick with the yuchi wild from now on i think.

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