Taiwan Tea Crafts

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Recent Tasting Notes

94

I bought this tea in 2020 just before the pandemic. As is true of a few other people here, Shibi is my favourite green oolong from Taiwan Tea Crafts because of all the tropical fruit. Fortunately, the vacuum sealing meant that this tea didn’t lose much of its flavour in the two years it’s been in my tea museum. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, 180, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of coconut, pear, apricot, lilies, honeysuckle, and grass. The first steep has notes of coconut, cookies, vanilla, pear, spinach, orchid, honeysuckle, butter, and grass. The second steep adds citrus, apricot, cream, and wildflowers. The third steep is all about the heavy coconut cream, with heady florals, vanilla, and what might be passion fruit in the background. The florals become more noticeable as the tea cools. By steep five, spinach, grass, and herbs are coming to the fore, though there’s still plenty of creamy coconut and honeysuckle, orchid, narcissus, and other florals. I also get an apricot/peachy aftertaste. The fruit fades by steep eight, though the florals persist until the end of the session.

As always, this Shibi is an excellent tea. Any oolong with so much coconut automatically gets a high rating from me, and the variety of other fruits and flowers is fantastic. My only small complaint is its relative lack of longevity, though that’s only in comparison to the other, pricier tropical fruity oolongs I’ve been drinking lately (the 2021 Longfenxia from Ethan and the 2019 Li Shan from Zhao Zhou come to mind). I highly recommend this tea for aficionados of fruity Taiwanese oolong!

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Citrus, Coconut, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Lily, Narcissus, Orchid, Passion Fruit, Peach, Pear, Spinach, Vanilla, Vegetal

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

Damn, that’s a high statement for Zhao Zhous (I finished it too quickly)! I’ve always wussed out of Shibi from Taiwan Tea Crafts because of shipping…which is hypocritical now, but I am.

Leafhopper

I’ve only had the Li Shan from Zhao Zhou once, but found it to be somewhat similar to the Longfengxia. I’m not surprised that you finished it quickly! Shipping from TTC used to be free over US$60, though I think it’s gotten more expensive. They also have a huge selection of teas, which means there are hits and misses for me.

Daylon R Thomas

Yep. They also either had only 5-10 gram samples, or 250 gram servings every time I try to buy it. I need to time it right.

Leafhopper

Yes, it’s annoying that they only have 10, 25, and 250 g sizes. I’ve been tempted to get the 250 g megapack, but there are occasionally less-than-stellar harvests.

Daylon R Thomas

That’s what I saw in your and Luckyme’s reviews. It’s like I need to know the harvest is good, and then I can buy it…oh it’s sold out.

Leafhopper

LOL! LuckyMe is generally more up to date on reviews than me, but there’s definitely a lag time.

LuckyMe

@Leafhopper So glad you like this one! It’s also my favorite high mountain tea from TTC’s lineup. Also, I wish every company packaged their tea the same way. Keeps them fresh practically forever and relieves my anxiety about unopened tea going stale on me.

@Daylon, I’ve been buying Shibi for a few years now and it’s generally a consistent performer as opposed to others like Long Feng xia where I have no idea what to expect from one season to the next.

derk

Woof, that sounds delightful!

Leafhopper

LuckyMe, those vacuum packs do make a whole lot of difference.

Derk, I thought you’d already tried an iteration of this tea. I would have saved you some otherwise.

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95

Yet another stellar roasted Taiwanese oolong from TTC. The light roast on this dong ding strikes the perfect balance between warm notes of candied pecan, cocoa, and toasted almond on one hand and greener floral notes on the other. Very smooth from start to finish without any bitterness. I love roasted teas that don’t actually taste roasty – not an easy feat – but this one manages to pull it off.

I normally steep this grandpa style using 200 F water. Cold brewing brings out brighter, more lively florals and sugarcane.

Kittenna

Urgh, this sounds amazing. I desperately want to order from TTC again to get more of their delicious oolongs, but I need to finish off what I bought from them like, 6 years ago, first!

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90

Another baked high mountain oolong from the backlog.

Out of the bag, mellow aroma of sweet caramel. Steeped grandpa style using 195 F water then topped off twice with boiling water.

This was a very clean and easy to drink tea with a rich honeyed flavor reminiscent of gui fei. Accented with notes of wildflowers and toasted almond. Next time, I’d like to brew it gongfu and see if I can get even more nuance and complexity out of this tea.

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46

Gross. This one tasted like swampy water mixed with earthy turnips and yams. What’s weird is the flavor bore no resemblance to the smell. The leaves had a citrusy aroma of lemon and tangerine however none of that came through in the tea. Didn’t bother rebrewing and will likely chuck the rest of my sample. That’s how bad it was.

This is likely my last time buying a Taiwanese green. In my experience, they smell great but seldom if ever deliver on flavor.

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92

Backlog.

I was torn on how to rate this tea. If you’d asked me when I first opened it, I would have rated it close to a 100. When fresh, it was intensely flavorful. A dynamic mixture of alpine flowers, tropical fruit, pastry cream, perfume, and minerals. But a few weeks later, the flavor suddenly began to go flat. It lost some of its brightness and body as sharper, more savory notes began to creep in. Usually high mountain teas fade gradually but this one lost its oomph pretty quickly.

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90

Well, it took longer than I expected get back on this site. Had been away for a while to focus on work-related training which finally ended a few weeks ago (whew!). In the process, I sort of fell out of my daily Steepster habit and the mountain of backlogged notes left me feeling a little overwhelmed. Wish there was a way to post my tasting notes from the MyTeaPal app to Steepster.

This was a complex and delicious roasted gaoshan. Despite its name, it did not taste roasty or charred at all. Instead it had deeply caramelized notes of salted caramel, brown sugar, and candied pecan. I steeped it grandpa style at 185-195 F. Lower temperatures brought out more sweetness and chocolatey notes.

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91

I bought this tea when we were still fooling ourselves that the pandemic would stay in China. That feels so long ago now. Fortunately, the vacuum sealing has kept this tea in good condition. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 50, 60, 90, and 120 seconds.

The dry aroma is of lilac, orchid, citrus, grass, and egg custard. The first steep is like a Tie Guan Yin with notes of lilac, orchid, spring flowers, egg custard, coriander, citrus, pineapple, butter, pleasant sourness, and grass. There’s a TGY-like apricot in the second steep, along with heaps of lilacs and other flowers and a green undertone. The next couple steeps have even heavier lilac notes, plus spring flowers, egg custard, citrus, sap, herbs, and grass. The tea gets more custardy and floral with each round, though spinach starts appearing in steep six. By the ninth steep or so, the tea is very green, though the lilac florals persist until the end of the session.

Despite being two years old, this is a lovely Baozhong. I particularly enjoyed its resemblance to Tie Guan Yin, which LuckyMe also noticed in a previous review. I wish the fruit had been more pronounced and had lasted longer, but the lilac notes more than made up for it! I’ll be getting more Baozhong this summer.

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Citrus, Coriander, Custard, Egg, Floral, Grass, Green, Herbaceous, Lilac, Orchid, Pineapple, Pleasantly Sour, Sap, Spinach, Vegetal

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

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58

Mastress Alita’s Monthly Sipdown Challenge: a Taiwanese tea

This is a fine Jin Xuan- slightly creamy and floral. Somewhat underwhelming and a bit bland.

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I grabbed this in an order with Sil a long time ago and finally opened it today and it was very good. I drank it while leading 3.5 hours of hearing prep and it was my one point of joy through that process. Thanks for helping me get this back in my cupboard, Sil!

Kittenna

Hearing prep is that awesome, hey? (I can only imagine.)

VariaTEA

I hate it so much!

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82

Sipdown! (3 | 3)

This is very unusual for a white tea, it definitely tastes closer to a black tea. I guess that makes sense given it’s from the same cultivar as Red Jade.

It’s very savory-tasting. The strongest note for me is green bean, and it’s a very cooked green bean that reminds me of these stewed green beans with bacon that my grandmother used to make. But then I can also taste those lovely dark caramelized brown sugar and malt notes that I would expect from a Taiwanese black tea. The hint of cinnamon is there as well. It’s almost a little sweet potato-y, like a Yunnan black tea? And a bit of astringency on the tail end.

It’s yummy! I don’t get the eucalyptus or camphor mentioned in the description, but it is on the older side now (though it was a sealed packet). An unusual and fun one to try for sure!

Flavors: Astringent, Bread, Brown Sugar, Caramelized Sugar, Cinnamon, Green Beans, Malt, Round, Savory, Smooth, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Funny how one can go for years not hearing about eucalyptus or camphor and then—boom!—everybody is talking about it.

derk

Due both to the power of suggestion and factors influencing harvests from season to season. It’s been a minute since I’ve had a wintergreen/camphor/eucalyptus-heavy Red Jade.

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82

Sipdown! (37 | 489)

Another older sample I had stashed away from TTC. Mine is actually lot 657, but I didn’t want to create a new listing for this one note…

This tea is simple but very tasty. Heavy on those lovely bugbitten honey notes combined with sweet dried fruits and a hint of cinnamon. Some nice fluffy enriched bread notes as well, so it’s a bit like lightly toasted brioche with a touch of fig jam, honey, and cinnamon. There’s a bit of a toasty autumn leaf note at the bottom as well.

I always love bai hao, and this one is no exception. Will definitely need to get some in my cupboard one of these days!

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Bread, Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Fig, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Smooth, Sweet

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Oooh, that sounds just lovely.

Evol Ving Ness

I know that’s not much of an insightful comment, that layering of flavours deserved something more than a deep sigh on this side of the screen.

Devon Bartholomew

Oh, good heavens, that sounds really good! After becoming diabetic, I miss the heck out of bread, haha :)

Cameron B.

I very often get a toasted bread with cinnamon honey sort of flavor profile from Taiwanese black teas and oxidized oolongs. Some of my favorite teas for sure!

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76

Highly oxidized for a white tea, this was reminiscent of a sun-dried black or aged white tea. This leaves me wondering if the majority of white teas sold as aged are in fact younger than claimed and processed in a similar manner to this tea. Regardless, this is still an enjoyable tea as a fan of the Ruby 18 cultivar.

Western cups had been my default method solely for the ease of a caffeine kick in the morning. I found the tea rather underwhelming prepared that way. Wanting to see what the tea was hiding, I prepared the remaining few sessions gongfu, which is what allowed this tea to shine.

The dry leaf had a subdued aroma of prunes and hay. Warming the leaf brought the prune forward while exhibiting undertones of custard and autumn leaf along with the hay. Wet leaf aroma definitely smelled like a sun-dried black with a stewed vegetables aroma. Nevermind that, it had no influence on the aroma or taste of the tea.

With the first cup, the aroma exhibited candy-like tangy and fruity notes along with hay. Notable were melon, lemon and black cherry. The main taste was similar to watermelon rind, later with with more of the autumn leaf character coming out along with blood orange. Black cherry and dried fruits highlighted the sharper notes while a cotton candy or honey-like sweetness softened those; eucalyptus and menthol rounded out the back. The finish shifted from cherry and cotton candy in the first few steeps into something generally tangy. The mouthfeel remained light to medium and as smooth as a tangy tea can allow. It was actually somewhat syrupy when brewed western style. The longevity of the leaf displays greater length with gongfu.

Overall, a pleasurable, highly oxidized Ruby 18 white that fares much better prepared gongfu. It is not a flavor-bomb like other Ruby 18 white, black and oolong I have tried. Having had several examples of this cultivar processed as white tea, I can say my preferences lean toward much lower oxidation.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Blood Orange, Candy, Cherry, Cotton Candy, Dried Fruit, Eucalyptus, Hay, Honey, Hot Hay, Melon, Menthol, Prune, Tangy, Watermelon

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
ashmanra

A Ruby white you once sent me was the most tea drunk I have ever been. I went to bed floating on a cloud of serenity and peace.

derk

Yup, I remember you posting about that! It elicited a strong response from me, too. If I ever come across another Ruby white with similar feeling, I’ll let you know.

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80

Sipdown! (26 | 478)

This was a random free sample in one of my TTC orders, with a sweet note saying they thought I would like it based on my other selections. I love nice little things like that. :3

Anyway, I just steeped it up Western-style like a heathen. :D For some reason I was thinking it was a black tea at the time, though it doesn’t really matter much as far as steeping parameters. I gently broke apart the bigger chunks that were in my packet, just to speed up the steep a little bit.

I would have believed it was a black tea from the taste as well. To me, it tastes almost like a hybrid of an oxidized and slightly roasted oolong (maybe Da Hong Pao?) and a Fujian black tea. And maybe a bit of shou puerh in there as well. It has those nice toasty autumn leafy notes and honey/brown sugar sweetness from the oolong, distinctive caraway or rye sort of notes from the black tea, and a mellow earthy/woody base from the shou. There’s a bit of sparkling minerality that I generally attribute to oolong as well, and a pleasant raisiny dried fruit note.

Overall, super mellow and chuggable. It’s not really a standout for me, but it’s tasty and very easy to drink. One of those teas where the bottom of the mug comes sooner than you expect. It looks like they no longer carry this one, so I don’t have to ponder whether I would consider reordering it given the right price. :P

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Brown Sugar, Caraway, Dried Fruit, Earth, Honey, Mineral, Raisins, Roasted, Rye, Smooth, Sweet, Wet Wood

Preparation
5 g 16 OZ / 473 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Like a heathen. :)

ashmanra

Nice toasty autumn leafy sounds good!

gmathis

I prefer to refer to myself as a barbarian, but I’ll share the label!

Cameron B.

Ha ha, it just seemed weird to me to steep a tea cake sample Western-style I guess. But I haven’t been in the mood for gongfu lately so here we are… XD

Evol Ving Ness

I have had a gaiwan and two prepped yixing pots sitting unused for years now.

Cameron B.

I tend to go through phases, sometimes with more gongfu, sometimes with teapots, right now I’m in a cozy mug phase.

Evol Ving Ness

I was quite happy with the DT’s steeper for a while. Now I’ve shifted to mostly flash steeps in my Libre.

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75

Finally getting around to recording this one! Buuuut I don’t have much to say. For some reason, I was anticipating more body, richness, and sweetness than I got – instead, it was a little on the thin/woody side? May also have been my tastebuds, though, so I’ll tentatively rate for now and try again another time, as I have a fair bit left of the original packet. Definitely not quite matching my favourite black tea profiles, though.

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81

Sipdown (206)

Thank you Sil for sharing! I made a cozy mug of this to go with my chocolate chip pancake breakfast. This complimented the breakfast well since it also has milk chocolate notes. One sip even gave me hot chocolate vibes. But on top of that it’s also malty and caramel and bready and delightful. Maybe even a touch of cinnamon. Am I imagining that last thing? Maybe. Probably. Who cares, I’m happy.

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66

Close to sipping down this one and so far, it has been the least impressive tea from my TTC order. Despite some wonderful aromatics, it has a very bland, generic light oolong taste. Faintly floral, watery body, and fades rather quickly. A little disappointing at how mediocre this is considering Long Feng Xia is usually a stellar high mountain oolong.

Flavors: Floral

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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95

Yum! This was such a delicious tea. Wenshan Baozhong is one of my favorite oolongs but I’ve never had it roasted before. The name suggests an ashy tea however it’s anything but roasty. The roasting has transformed the usual heady baozhong florals into something completely new. It evokes the flavors of roasted fruit, chocolate, maple syrup, stroopwafel, and candied pecan. Bears many similarities to a good dong ding but with a lot more sweetness. There are none of the oily and woodsy notes that I sometime struggle with in yancha and dan cong. A very clean tasting and approachable tea for everyone.

Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Elderflower, Maple, Peach, Pecan, Roasted Nuts

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C

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81

An interesting experimental batch from TTC. This is a scented tea made using local Taiwanese Bergamot instead of the familiar Italian variety found in Earl Grey tea. Tasting it, however, I can say there’s a world of difference between the two. Real bergamot has a distinct perfumey flavor. Even though it’s a citrus fruit, bergamot flavored tea isn’t very citrusy. This on the other hand is more citrus forward and would not be mistaken for bergamot. Smells and tastes like juicy tangerine and citrus rind. Occasionally, it gives impressions of lemon scented kitchen cleaner and Hi-C. When ambient brewed, the bergamot mingles with the underlying Jin Xuan to produce delicious rose and gardenia florals.

I think this would appeal to people seeking a citrusy or orange scented tea but doubt it will win over too many Earl Grey afficionados.

Flavors: Citrus, Lemon Zest, Orange, Tangerine

Preparation
Iced 5 g 20 OZ / 600 ML
Evol Ving Ness

What does ambient brewed mean?

LuckyMe

@Evol Ving Ness it means steeping at room temperature for a few hours then adding ice. It’s my short cut method for cold brewing.

Evol Ving Ness

Ah, ok. Thank you for explaining. I do that overnight and no ice.

LuckyMe

Cool. I ambient Brew for only a few hours though. Any bitterness from steeping that long?

Evol Ving Ness

No, but I am cautious about the teas I steep this way. I go light on leaf with those that are prone to bitterness.

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81

Y is for… Yuchi Wild Mountain Black, Lot 864

Thank you Sil for sharing!

This one is good. At first I was like this is super jammy and sweet. But then as I kept drinking I was getting more fresh baked bread. Maybe sweet potato that’s slightly caramelized. Whatever it was, it was delicious! Yum!

Courtney

Looove this one, so glad you got to enjoy it as well! :)

Sil

it’s consistently delicious. I’ll let you know when/if i order more…likely be a large bulk order

Leafhopper

I’ve ordered this tea, but haven’t tried it yet. Sounds great!

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81

Didn’t enjoy this one as much as the regular Wenshan Baozhong from the same harvest. This is a rather basic, one dimensional baozhong. Floral/lilac overtones, medium body, and a vegetative brothy flavor. No real depth to it though and taste doesn’t evolve much either.

Flavors: Floral, Grass, Lilac, Perfume, Strawberry, Vegetable Broth

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97

There’s a reason why this is my favorite high mountain oolong. It’s a sublime and refined tea that’s been consistently good year after year. This latest crop was no exception. It has those lush florals I love. Big hits of magnolia, orchid, and lily of the valley. This is balanced with tropical fruit, vanilla, and pastry cream. Full bodied with a silky texture and lingering floral finish. It also has good staying power. I got 7 quality steeps from it.

About a month after opening the pouch, I noticed there was a noticeable degradation in flavor. Not in a bad way but the tea had lost some of its nuance and tasted more vegetal and savory. Switching from gongfu to grandpa style helped rescue the tea. This brought out a whole new character and tropical flavor that I hadn’t experienced with gongfu.

Instagram photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CSASh1PLmzP/

Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Nectar, Orchid, Pastries, Pineapple, Tropical, Vanilla

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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Sipdown 145-2021
I’m actually drinking lot 892….but close enough. It’s a nice unfrosted oolong. A bit of a floral/lilac flavor. A bit of a buttery vegetable thing going on as well. Fine, but not particularly memorable.

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98

After a string of subpar Baozhongs recently, this spring’s harvest has once again restored my faith in this tea. It’s deliciously fresh and teeming with complex florals.

As I always do with baozhongs, I brewed this one grandpa style. The leaves emit a very fragrant aroma of hyacinth, lilac, and violet. The tea has an exquisite floral flavor. At first sip, I’m greeted by sweet lilacs followed by granny smith apple and lingering flower nectar. Fresh. Mouth coating. Really smooth and luscious.

When my cup got down to 1/3, I topped it off with boiling water. This dropped all of the leaves and produced a brighter green color. New floral notes of orchid appeared in my cup along with melon and sweet pea making the tea more luscious and perfumey.

Enjoyed this one immensely!

Flavors: Flowers, Green Apple, Lilac, Melon, Orchid, Peas

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 g 6 OZ / 179 ML
tea-sipper

Great to hear the new harvest of Wenshan is so good!

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