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Recent Tasting Notes

86

May 2021 Harvest – First Flush

This was included as a free sample in my last What-Cha order. Thank you! I don’t think I’d tried teas from Nepal before checking out What-Cha; all the ones I’ve had so far have been pretty good – this one included!

Aroma: The dry leaf smells like some kind of funky tree trail mix, like nuts, something fruity (dried apricot?), floral, and “plant” (yes, tea is plant. I am very observant). The broth is nutty and fruity like orange zest and apricot.

To taste, there are some lovely purple fruit notes, like grapes and plums. The nuts from the aroma carry over and so does “plant” (it’s a tree!). There’s also a “starchy” flavour that is like banana and/or sweet potato. Banana/plantain really comes out in the finish as it cools. It’s nice.

I’m having a good time, in part because of this tea but also because I’m eating Palak Paneer and Butter Chicken (maybe I should’ve picked up some momos in spirit of this tea but I was really feeling Punjabi cuisine tonight. Life’s alright).

Flavors: Apricot, banana, Floral, Fruity, Malt, Oak, Orange, Plum, Raisins, Roasted Nuts, Stonefruit, Sweet Potatoes, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
derk

Nice picture of the tea you paint :) And sealing the note with mention of Indian food makes it all the better.

Evol Ving Ness

This tea sounds lovely. And so does the menu. Hooray for those moments that everything lines up and one can exhale, if just briefly, with a contented sigh. Thank you for sharing.

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92

Spring 2021 Harvest

I’ve this online tea buying “coping mechanism” (read: bad habit) of not paying attention to currency exchange rates. Usually, this protects my sanity and allows me to try some tasty teas. This tea though (made me cry) is lucky it tastes so good! Ha.. ha.. (I need to pay better attention to currency exchanges).

The aroma of dry leaf is a Sherbet Fountain (ie – powdered sugar and licorice, but I may be remembering those wrong). Steeped up, the cup takes on the aroma of caramel, chocolate, sweet malt leftovers (like from beer processing). I love all of these smells.

1st steep reminds me of Premium Taiwanese Assam or similar, but slightly more subtle: powdered sugar, sweet potato, cocoa, caramel, pepper/berry-citrus finish (intensity fades as cooled). As it cools, I also get mineral notes, and milk.. so much milk. I love when my teas have “in-built” milk or cream notes.

2nd steep is smoother than the first, with more mineral and milk. The lingering aftertaste reminds me of dark chocolate with (black/blue?) berries and honey. It’s such an easy drinker (which makes that exchange rate burn all the more).

3rd steep (6min) has notes of sweet potato, berries, honey, powdered sugar, and cream. Very PTA.

Steep Count: 3 (+ initial Rinse)

Anyways, this tea is super neat, checks off all of my “good black tea” boxes, and comes from a pretty cool location (we can grow tea where now!?). I’d consider reordering this again, despite the expense.

Flavors: Berries, Caramel, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Honey, Malt, Milk, Mineral, Pepper, Powdered Sugar, Smooth, Stonefruit, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
eastkyteaguy

I have been resisting the urge to snatch up some samples of What-Cha’s Welsh and Jersey teas simply because they are so expensive. I have no clue how much longer I will be able to hold out.

Leafhopper

Currency exchange rates are the bane of my existence! I was also considering this tea but decided against it based on the price (and also because I have a lot of other teas to get through).

CrowKettle

One of the only reasons I picked up this tea is because of my blatant disregard for numbers D:

The other reason is that it sounded neat and it IS neat. But now, of course, I want to try the other Welsh and Jersey teas too.

CrowKettle

If I had got more than 10g (regrets), and this wasn’t a 2-3tsp tea, I would share with you both in a heartbeat. Alas, it’s essentially gone now (omg) T.T

Leafhopper

CrowKettle, that’s okay. :) Those 10 g samples go fast.

Evol Ving Ness

Wow—almost $20 for 10 grams. wow! And it’s a 2-3 teaspoon tea-gah! Though your description makes it sound ever so lovely and delicious. I am also a fan of built in milk and cream. So glad that it was delightful. It IS tempting.

CrowKettle

It’s a solid resteeper (and if you’re like me you’ll definitely want to resteep this one), and I’ve gotten away with “underleafing” it – so a little less painful than what it seems. I wish I’d tried out a short steep method too though.

I’d even consider reordering this next time, and definitely want to see how it tastes in a different harvest year (will just have to stick head in the sand re £ to $ again) :)

CrowKettle

I decided to steep it in those DT nordic mugs (so actually 16oz). Out of 10g/0.35oz I got 12-16 mugs/resteeps out of it. So, not bad!

Evol Ving Ness

Oh, I am definitely a re-steeper.

Thank you for the details on the breakdown. It makes it all sound that much more manageable. Reasonable, even:)

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87

I will probably call it a day after posting this review. I’m trying to stay on a strict exercise schedule, and I have deviated from it today. I have been very busy the last three days, and yesterday was a total nightmare. I don’t want to go off on a tangent here, so let’s get back on track. I polished off what I had of this tea in the summer of 2020. I had 100 grams of it to play around with, so it took me more than a bit to finish it all. I found this to be a very good, solid, approachable first flush Darjeeling black tea.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose leaf material in approximately 8 fluid ounces of 185 F water for 5 minutes. I did not rinse the loose leaf material prior to steeping nor did I attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to steeping, the dry leaf material emitted aromas of pine, almond, malt, baked bread, hay, straw, chili leaf, and green bell pepper. After steeping, I detected new aromas of apricot, plum, muscatel, peanut, orange zest, cherry, and cashew. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of pear, grass, hay, cream, straw, baked bread, apricot, pine, muscatel, green bell pepper, green apple, chili leaf, orange zest, almond, butter, cherry, and peanut that were accompanied by hints of plum, cashew, and peach. Each sip finished malty and nutty with slight tart fruit, pine wood, and grassy, vegetal impressions lingering in the mouth after each swallow.

This was actually a very pleasant, likable first flush Darjeeling black tea. Unlike some of the others I have tried, it was neither too tart nor too vegetal and offered a unique mix of aromas and flavors. The tea liquor, though somewhat thin, was nicely textured and vibrant in the mouth. Had some of the tea’s more pleasant and interesting aroma and flavor components come through a little more clearly and come off as being a little more persistent, this would have been a knockout offering. As is, though, it was still a very good one, especially for the price. I think it could have competed with some of the more expensive first flush Darjeelings I have tried in recent years.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Cashew, Cherry, Cream, Grass, Green Apple, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Muscatel, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Straw, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
derk

Werrrk it!

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94

Alright, it’s time for the final review of the day. This one comes from like March or April of 2020. I actually thought I had already posted a review for this tea, but apparently, I did not. At this point, everyone here knows that I am a huge Jun Chiyabari cheerleader. I think they produce great tea. Well, this was another one.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I measured out 3 grams of loose tea leaves and then rinsed them for 10 seconds in 194 F water. I normally do not rinse teas of this type, and honestly, I have no clue why I decided to do that with this tea. I then steeped the rinsed tea leaves in approximately 8 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. As usual, I did not attempt any additional steeps.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of hay, straw, cedar, and roasted almond. After the rinse, aromas of butter, rose, orange zest, cream, and chocolate appeared. Once the leaves were steeped, I picked up new aromas of malt, black cherry, and muscatel. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of rose, malt, cream, roasted almond, baked bread, butter, violet, orange zest, chocolate, black cherry, muscatel, pear, plum, blackberry, honey, blueberry, grass, hay, black raspberry, and lemon rind that were supported by hints of cedar, straw, and pine. Each sip finished fruity and slightly astringent with particularly notable impressions of wood, chocolate, cream, and roasted almond lingering after each swallow.

This was an extremely pleasant, playful Nepalese black tea that maintained approachability and drinkability despite its complexity. The liquor was also very nicely textured and displayed just enough weight in the mouth to give it some strength and significance. I cannot really add much more at this point. I’ll wrap up by plainly stating that this tea was yet another winner from a producer that cranks them out like clockwork. If you are familiar with Jun Chiyabari, you know what you will get from a tea like this one.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Butter, Cedar, Cherry, Chocolate, Cream, Grass, Hay, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Muscatel, Orange Zest, Pear, Pine, Plum, Raspberry, Rose, Straw, Violet

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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69

Alright, this will be my last review of the day. I wanted to switch things up a little bit with this one and dig a little further into my backlog. This was one of my sipdowns from mid-summer of 2020. It’s interesting to me that not only did I seem to like this tea way less than previous reviewers, but I seemed to perceive its aroma and flavor very differently as well.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I measured out 3 grams of loose leaf and stem material and then steeped it for 5 minutes in approximately 8 fluid ounces of 194 F water. I did not rinse the leaf and stem material prior to steeping nor did I attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to steeping, the dry leaf and stem mix emitted aromas of straw, hay, earth, raisin, and prune that were underscored by a subtle pine scent. After infusion, I picked up new aromas of cinnamon, grass, roasted almond, ginger, baked bread, honey, cream, and malt. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of straw, hay, grass, roasted almond, malt, cinnamon, cream, earth, baked bread, pine, orange zest, and plum that were accompanied by hints of raisin, prune, honey, ginger, pear, red apple, cocoa, roasted peanut, and smoke. The liquor turned increasingly astringent in the mouth with moderate bitterness. On each swallow, an oak presence jumped out, while impressions of fruit, malt, pine, hay, straw, grass, earth, and baked bread remained.

Compared to the other What-Cha Benifuuki black tea that I tried last year, this was a better offering overall. It was gentler, smoother, and more pleasant with better integration and balance of its aroma and flavor components. That being said, it was still a bit harsh and displayed a very strong, overbearing energy that contributed to lasting jitteriness for me. This did not strike me as being a bad tea, but I also would not place it among my favorite Japanese black teas. Overall, I guess it was pretty good. I wish I could say it was better.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Dried Fruit, Earth, Ginger, Grass, Hay, Honey, Malt, Oak, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Red Apple, Smoke, Straw

Preparation
3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
derk

The few Japanese black teas I’ve tried have left me feeling uncomfortably spun. I’m still perplexed that nobody has gotten the florality from this tea that I did.

eastkyteaguy

They usually have the same effect on me, and I am not someone tremendously affected by caffeine. With regard to any floral qualities this tea possessed, I don’t know. I didn’t find any, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t there. It seems that other reviewers did not get as much earthiness or grassiness as I did.

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79

Okay, I’m done after this one gets posted. I have to go to bed, and my thumbs are starting to get sore from typing on my phone. This was another of my 2020 sipdowns. I recall having very high expectations for this tea after being impressed by two previous offerings from Guranse. Sadly, it didn’t live up to those expectations, but it still turned out to be a more or less very good tea.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in approximately 8 fluid ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. I did not rinse the leaves nor did I attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of pine, roasted almond, dandelion, malt, honey, and baked bread. After infusion, I picked up additional aromas of butter, cream, vanilla, muscatel, rose, and orange blossom, as well as a subtle apricot presence. The tea liquor offered notes of grass, pine, cream, butter, orange zest, malt, pear, rose, orange blossom, dandelion, dandelion greens, black cherry, blackberry, apricot, roasted almond, muscatel, baked bread, and wintergreen oil that were chased by hints of hay, spinach, vanilla, smoke, earth, red apple, and honey. Each sip finished smooth, creamy, malty, nutty, and buttery with slight astringency and a pleasant wintergreen presence that lingered in the back of the throat.

Though this was a very enjoyable offering, I did notice a few issues with it. To this point, I have noticed that Guranse’s black teas tend to produce a tea liquor that is very thin and sharp in the mouth, and this tea produced the thinnest and sharpest of the bunch. I also noticed that sometimes a few aroma and flavor components either came through a little too forcefully or were too muddled and indistinct. The balance of the tea liquor seemed perpetually off in certain small, but noticeable ways. Coupled with a thin, sharp mouthfeel that could feel almost watery at times, this little nagging issue was greatly amplified. It became very annoying very quickly because it was impossible for me to ignore. In the end, this proved to be an enjoyable and worthwhile offering, but it was the weakest of What-Cha’s Guranse black teas that I tried.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Butter, Cherry, Cream, Dandelion, Earth, Grass, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Pear, Pine, Rose, Smoke, Spinach, Vanilla, Vegetal

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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94

I’m not ready to head to bed yet, so here is another of my tea reviews from 2020. I’m pretty sure this was my first Fukamushi sencha, like ever. I do not remember trying one prior to trying this one. Though this was supposed to be the budget offering of the two Fukamushi senchas What-Cha started carrying, I was very impressed by the quality of this tea.

I settled on a multi-step Western brewing process to prepare this tea. I started off by measuring out 3 grams of loose leaf material and steeping it in approximately 8 fluid ounces of 167 F water for 30 seconds. This infusion was followed by a 15 second infusion in 172 F water, a 45 second infusion in 177 F water, a 1 minute 15 second infusion in 182 F water, and a 3 minute infusion in 187 F water.

Prior to the first infusion, the dry leaf material produced aromas of grass, zucchini, pine, baked bread, and asparagus. After infusion, the leaf material (now more soggy leaf gunk than anything else), produced aromas of seaweed, spinach, peas, toasted rice, and vegetable broth. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented clear notes of peas, grass, zucchini, sweet corn, butter, toasted rice, chestnut, asparagus, vegetable broth, pine, and seaweed that were balanced by subtler impressions of baked bread, hay, and green apple. The second infusion introduced aromas of butter, chestnut, and summer squash. Summer squash notes came out in the mouth along with some very subtle hints of pear. The third infusion added lemon zest and green apple aromas with mineral notes and hints of both lemon zest and green apple in the mouth. The fourth infusion added a subtle green olive scent with hints of green olive also present in the tea liquor in addition to the presence of sea salt. The final infusion saw the nose turn salty and generally heavy with a mineral presence overall. The tea liquor was basically just bright green water by this point, but I did detect a mineral presence, some saltiness, and some light grassy, vegetal notes.

This was such a fun and enjoyable offering, even if all the shredded leaf material ended up turning into a mass of what appeared to be radioactive green goo in the bottom of one of my nylon brew baskets that required seriously heavy scrubbing to remove. I loved the intensely colored tea liquor and the approachable, pleasant, and complementary aroma and flavor profiles this tea displayed. Though the higher end Fukamushi sencha carried by What-Cha was more refined, this was still a tremendous offering for what it was. I actually enjoyed the two almost equally, but this tea struck me as offering more bang for the buck.

Flavors: Asparagus, Baked Bread, Broth, Butter, Chestnut, Grass, Green Apple, Hay, Lemon Zest, Mineral, Olives, Pear, Peas, Pine, Salt, Seaweed, Squash, Toasted Rice, Vegetal, Zucchini

Preparation
0 min, 30 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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85

Once again I am up late and killing off some time by posting backlogged tea reviews from 2020. I’m slowly getting used to reviewing Japanese green teas, even though I am still not brewing them in anything resembling traditional fashion. Then again, do I ever really brew anything in traditional fashion? No, not exactly. I tend to personalize everything. This tea was something of a challenge for me. Prior to trying it, I was not all that familiar with houjicha and knew that what I usually do with sencha was probably not going to work well. A little research yielded a number of wildly different approaches to brewing houjicha, and I ended up settling on a multi-step approach suitable for Western brew baskets and tea mugs. I’ll outline my approach below.

To brew this tea, I opted for a multi-step Western brewing process. I started by measuring out 3 grams of loose tea leaves and steeping them in approximately 8 fluid ounces of 185 F water for 1 minute 30 seconds. This infusion was followed by two others. The second infusion lasted 30 seconds and was done with 203 F water. The third and final infusion was conducted with 212 F water and lasted 1 minute 30 seconds.

Prior to the first infusion, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of smoke, tar, charcoal, roasted barley, brown sugar, and roasted chestnut. After infusion, new aromas of coffee, butter, soybean, and toasted rice appeared. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of smoke, cream, butter, roasted barley, toasted rice, charcoal, coffee, minerals, soybean, vanilla, peas, and brown sugar that were underscored by delicate hints of tar, roasted chestnut, grass, hay, and baked bread. The second infusion introduced aromas of pine, ash, apple, sweet cherry, and cinnamon. Stronger and more immediate notes of grass, hay, baked bread, and roasted chestnut appeared in the mouth alongside notes of pine and hints of sweet cherry, ash, and cinnamon. The final infusion did not add anything new to the nose. The tea liquor turned very mineral-heavy in the mouth, although notes of pine, butter, smoke, cream, toasted rice, and roasted barley were still very much present. Hints of brown sugar, roasted chestnut, charcoal, soybean, grass, and baked bread could be detected as well, and a very subtle hint of apple also briefly made itself known.

I had absolutely no clue what I was doing with this tea, but it was still a very fun and enjoyable offering. Challenges are not always rewarding, but this tea ended up being one of those rewarding challenges for me. I cannot compare it to any other houjicha with any confidence, but I can state that I did enjoy this tea. It struck me as being a quality offering, and it also made me me open up to the possibility of eventually trying and reviewing another houjicha or two. Could I ask for more than that from this tea? Should I? I don’t think so.

Flavors: Apple, Ash, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Char, Cherry, Chestnut, Cinnamon, Coffee, Cream, Grass, Hay, Mineral, Peas, Pine, Roasted Barley, Smoke, Soybean, Tar, Toasted Rice, Vanilla

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 30 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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39

Though it is a little after 1:00 am here, I’m still up (side note: food poisoning sucks), so I figured I would go through my backlog and select at least one long overdue review to post. This one comes to you all from either late summer or early fall of 2020. I had been looking forward to trying this tea for ages by the time I actually took the opportunity to try it, but it ended up disappointing me.

I prepared this tea the way I prepare most sencha. I started off by measuring out 3 grams of loose tea leaves and then steeping them in approximately 8 fluid ounces of 158 F water for 1 minute. This initial steep was followed by four others. The second steep was conducted with 163 F water and lasted 30 seconds. The third steep lasted 45 seconds and was conducted with 168 F water. The fourth steep lasted 1 minute 30 seconds and made use of 173 F water. The fifth and final steep lasted 3 minutes and was conducted with 178 F water.

Prior to the first steep, I sniffed the dry tea leaves and found aromas of grass, hay, asparagus, chestnut, and toasted rice. After the first steep, I found new aromas of lemon rind, grapefruit pith, kale, spinach, and seaweed. The tea liquor offered mild notes of grass, hay, lemon rind, kale, grapefruit pith, and spinach that were balanced by hints of collard greens, butter, cream, seaweed, sweet corn, sour plum, and sour apricot. The second steep introduced aromas of collard greens, turnip greens, and parsley. Stronger and more immediate collard green, butter, and cream notes appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of parsley and turnip greens. I also detected hints of toasted rice, kumquat, chestnut, and orange zest. The third steep brought forth aromas of lemon zest and kumquat as well as a suddenly amplified grapefruit pith scent. The tea liquor began to turn more strongly vegetal in the mouth. Asparagus notes finally made themselves known, and more of a seaweed presence started to emerge. Very strong notes of collard greens, parsley, grass, kale, and turnip greens were present in addition to interesting hints of sour cherry and pear that were most noticeable after each swallow. The fourth go-round with this tea yielded grassier, more vegetal scents on the nose. The tea liquor offered pronounced sea salt and mineral notes backed by grassy, vegetal hints and some lingering citrus and sour fruit presences. Bizarrely, I just barely picked up on a surprise menthol presence that disappeared as quickly as I found it. The final steep didn’t offer much of anything on the nose. In the mouth, the liquor remained very salty and generally mineral-heavy, but with an increased butteriness. The sour fruit notes were suddenly amplified, but tended to fade fast after they made themselves known. Very slight grassy, vegetal hints remained. By this point, the tea liquor was becoming increasingly astringent, so I cut things off at this point.

First things first, I loved the gorgeous purple tea liquor this tea produced. I promised myself that I wouldn’t be suckered in by this tea’s gimmick, but I was. I was so excited to see a cup full of purple liquid that I took multiple pictures of it with my phone’s camera and sent them all to my best friend. In the middle of the night. On a weekday. Why? Because I’m a chump. That’s why. And I live a very boring, lonely, unfulfilling, unhealthy life. That was true last year when I was drinking this tea, and sadly, it’s still kind of true now. Anyway, getting back on track here, the actual drinking experience offered by this tea was kind of a rollercoaster. It was just up and down. While this tea was unique and did have a lot to offer, it didn’t consistently put it all together in a way that satisfied me. Though I am giving this tea a low score and generally would not recommend it over more traditional styles of sencha, I still don’t think it should be wholly avoided. If anything, it’s definitely worth a try just for the novelty factor it offers.

Flavors: Apricot, Asparagus, Astringent, Butter, Cherry, Chestnut, Citrus, Cream, Grapefruit, Grass, Hay, Kale, Lemon, Menthol, Parsley, Pear, Plum, Salt, Seaweed, Spinach, Toasted Rice, Vegetal

Preparation
1 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
mrmopar

You were up late. Hope you get feeling better. We will be in Boone or the general area next Friday. Going to see if I could wave at ya.

eastkyteaguy

Sadly, I’m stuck way out in the middle of nowhere (very literally) in Eastern Ky. You’d have to drive around 4 hours out of your way, and I’m basically in no shape to leave the house, so it really wouldn’t be safe or worth it. I also have no idea what exactly is wrong with me, but my whole family is sick right now. It’s like the same bug has been circulating through all of us for a couple weeks. First I was sick. Then it was my dad. Then my mom got sick. Then I got sick again. And I’ve been having health issues for the last year anyway. I’ve been working on diet and exercise at home, so I’m starting to slowly get back in shape, but my energy levels are still very low and inconsistent overall. I experience crashes out of nowhere and will be very tired and weak for a day or two afterwards. I’m supposed to go in for a couple of appointments in the next month to get a better idea of what’s going on. So far, I’ve been able to a avoid surgery, but it’s still probably on the horizon at some point in the not too distant future.

Kawaii433

Ugh sorry to hear you had food poisoning!.I had a small bout of it last week. I ate a salad from the grocery store and kaboom. Ugh. Excellent review as always eastkyteaguy!

ashmanra

Hope you are all feeling better!

mrmopar

Understood and prayers you get better soon. One day we shall have a cup of tea together.

eastkyteaguy

Don’t worry. We will. Hopefully sooner rather than later. What really happened here is that I fell into some bad habits and just let myself go for several years, so some chronic health issues that I previously had in check just ran wild, and then a few newer ones weren’t dealt with at all, so now I have to get everything under control again. I’m taking steps to do that, but it’s just more difficult than it was when I was younger.

Prior to leaving my old community health job, I had a bit of a cancer scare. After I found out I was in the clear and I didn’t have to depend on that job anymore, I quit. I didn’t have a real plan for what came next though, so I ended up just going nuts. By 2019, I was in a bad way financially and had started to fall behind on routine medical work. I started to get myself together again in early 2020, but then the pandemic hit, and everything got put on hold for a year and a half now.

mrmopar

Yeah you havebeen through the wringer for sure. Better times are ahead, just keep that perseverance going.

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91

Here is a review of a another of my summer sipdowns for everyone to enjoy. I think I polished off my 25g pouch of this tea in either July or August. At the time, I was concerned about the quality of this tea, as the only previous reviewer had not enjoyed it much. Fortunately for me, I found this to be an excellent Yunnan moonlight white tea. Actually, I would go a step further and say that it was one of the best I have ever had.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This initial infusion was followed by 20 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes, and 30 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of sugarcane, malt, cream, marshmallow, hay, wood, and eucalyptus. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, butter, grass, and baked bread. The first infusion introduced subtle aromas of minerals and honeydew. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented pleasant notes of cream, golden raisin, butter, malt, grass, hay, baked bread, oats, sugarcane, and roasted almond that were deftly balanced by subtler notes of plum, lemon, marshmallow, roasted peanut, wood, honeydew, and eucalyptus. The bulk of the subsequent impressions introduced a stronger aroma of honeydew and new aromas of oats, lemon, cinnamon, and golden raisin to the mix. More immediate and pronounced notes of lemon, honeydew, wood, roasted peanut, and marshmallow appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of minerals and watermelon rind. Delicate, lively hints of cucumber, cinnamon, pear, orange zest, vanilla, apricot, and nectarine could also be detected. As the tea faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, cream, baked bread, malt, roasted almond, and oats that were chased by a swell of honeydew, lemon, cucumber, hay, wood, roasted peanut, marshmallow, apricot, plum, eucalyptus, and watermelon rind flavors.

This was such a lovely example of a Yunnan moonlight white tea. It struck an excellent balance between rustic charm and smooth sophistication, melding gorgeous, complementary aroma and flavor profiles with a lively, substantial, crisply textured mouthfeel, and tremendous longevity. A very complex tea with a ton of depth, I could see how this tea might be overwhelming or confusing to some, but I have been drinking Yunnan moonlight white teas off and on for somewhere between five and six years now, and it hit pretty much all of the right notes for me. This was an incredible offering and one that demanded to be brewed in a long, slow gong fu session in order to get the most out of it. This was quite simply my kind of white tea and a reminder that I need to come back to certain types of tea more frequently.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Cucumber, Eucalyptus, Fruity, Grass, Hay, Honeydew, Lemon, Malt, Marshmallow, Melon, Mineral, Oats, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Raisins, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
tea-sipper

I’m curious if you have ever considered a job in tea?

eastkyteaguy

I have, but I haven’t seriously looked into it. A few vendors have encouraged me, but when no one seemed interested, I just stopped looking. In the past, I have also tried to break into food and beverage and arts and entertainment journalism and criticism, but the problem I have is that I am way past the point where I can volunteer my energy and time and pay dues until someone offers to pay me. And a lot of places just don’t want to pay someone to research, write, and edit, or if they do, they want someone who has a certain look and presence, someone who fits one or more desired demographics, and that has apparently never been me. I really fell through the cracks in both of my past professions. I always seem to be someone who is either good enough to interview but never hire or someone who is good enough to hire but never develop, promote, or otherwise invest in at all.

tea-sipper

Ah okay. I was wondering, because your tasting notes are always so spot on and consistent. The consistency alone would count for something for tea work… I think my tasting notes became lazy years ago. haha

eastkyteaguy

You really don’t want to get me started on the job market or contemporary American work culture, and more specifically, recruiting, hiring, and promotional practices. I have had such bad luck with employers, that I have become very angry and embittered.

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79

Since I have made the decision to stay up tonight and have not posted anything in several days, I’m forcing myself to be productive and crank out another review. I am dipping much further into my backlog than I have been recently for this one, as I finished what I had of this tea either during the summer or fall of last year. Looking back over the notes I took during my review session, they’re horrible, just all over the place. I have no clue how well this review is going to go, but here it is.

I had no clue how to properly prepare South Korean green tea at the time I set about reviewing this one (still have no clue), so I decided on a multi-step Western brewing process. I started by measuring out 3 grams of loose tea leaves and then steeped them in 8 fluid ounces of 158 F water for 30 seconds. This initial infusion was followed by four others. For the second infusion, I steeped the tea leaves in 8 fluid ounces of 163 F water for 45 seconds. The third infusion lasted 1 minute 15 seconds and was conducted with 168 F water. The fourth infusion lasted 2 minutes and was conducted with 173 F water. The fifth and final infusion made use of 178 F water and lasted 3 minutes.

Prior to the first infusion, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of zucchini, peas, toasted sweet corn, cucumber, hay, soybean, and baked bread. After infusion, I found new aromas of grass, summer squash, chestnut, and asparagus. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up gentle notes of zucchini, soybean, grass, peas, toasted sweet corn, chestnut, and summer squash that were balanced by hints of baked bread, hay, minerals, butter, cream, cucumber, and sea salt. The second infusion introduced mineral and butter aromas, as well as a vague vegetable broth-like umami scent. Stronger and more immediate notes of minerals, hay, butter, cream, and cucumber appeared in the mouth along with oat and grilled lemon notes and hints of umami, honey, and sugarcane. The third infusion offered a very vague grassy, vegetal nose with barely detectable lemon and honey presences. The tea liquor turned very creamy and buttery in the mouth with strong mineral notes. I noticed a slightly more prominent umami presence as well as hints of hazelnut, pine, lettuce, and green apple. The fourth infusion again offered a mildly grassy, vegetal nose. This time there was more of a mineral presence in the mouth, but I also noted prominent hazelnut and chestnut flavors and a swell of grass, vegetable, cream, and butter notes on each swallow. The final infusion offered little in the way of a nose and presented heavy mineral notes with very vague creamy, buttery, nutty, and vegetal hints.

This was a unique green tea, and I enjoyed certain characteristics it displayed, but it made for a somewhat uneven drinking experience overall. I can best sum it up by describing it as three more or less great infusions followed by two very disappointing ones. At least that description accurately describes the experience I had with this tea the way I chose to prepare it. Don’t forget that I was not in the best mental state and had no clue what I was doing when I was working my way through what I had of this tea. I’ll just stop here before I get off track. There are certain aspects of my life during this time that I do not want to talk about just yet. I guess this tea was pretty good.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Chestnut, Cream, Cucumber, Grass, Green Apple, Hay, Hazelnut, Honey, Lemon, Lettuce, Mineral, Oats, Peas, Pine, Salt, Soybean, Squash, Sugarcane, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal, Zucchini

Preparation
0 min, 30 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
mrmopar

Stay strong my friend. Better times ahead.

Evol Ving Ness

Be well, eastkyteaguy. We’re all rooting for you.

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70

Quaffable enough. I don’t get much taste on the front at all, but going down pleasantly like nettles (if you’ve had nettle soup – like brighter spinach). I think it’ll take a while. I often need others here to taste a tea first because then their descriptions help me home in on the flavours to be alert for.

Flavors: Green, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Leafhopper

Agreed, other people’s tasting notes help me pin down some flavours.

derk

Marsh P, your note about Heavenly Drop gyokuro helped me out :)

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90

Before I call it a day, I’d like to take a few moments to review another of my more recent sipdowns. This was a tea that I had been looking forward to reviewing for some time, simply because I had yet to try or review a tea from Badamtam. I did not know what to expect with this tea, nor did I know how to rate it after my first couple of cups, but it ended up growing on me.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped approximately 3 grams of loose leaf material in 8 ounces of 185 F water for 5 minutes. I did not rinse the leaf material prior to steeping nor did I attempt any additional steeps.

Prior to steeping, the loose leaf material produced aromas of hay, grass, straw, dandelion, chili leaf, and green bell pepper. After steeping, I detected new aromas of cream, butter, malt, baked bread, almond, basil, plum, fennel, orange zest, and white grape. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of basil, grass, hay, straw, dandelion, dandelion greens, cream, butter, orange zest, lemon zest, malt, almond, baked bread, green bell pepper, chili leaf, watermelon rind, pear, plum, fennel, white grape, and peanut, as well as hints of apple and green wood. The finish was surprisingly balanced and pleasant, lacking the pronounced and sometimes overpowering bitterness and astringency I typically get out of many first flush Darjeeling black teas.

My first impression of this tea was that it was overly busy and confusing, offering too many sudden, jarring shifts from one set of flavor components to another, but after finishing off 25 grams of it over the course of a couple days, I found that its liveliness and jitteriness quickly became endearing. I also found that it was more focused and balanced than I initially thought. All of its flavor components surprisingly worked very well together. The tea liquor displayed something of a bready, creamy, buttery, malty heft in the mouth that kept it from coming off as sharp or harsh, though it also made it more filling. Overall, this was a very nice tea, one that I still look back on fondly. For me, this ended up being the sort of tea that one remembers the feel, warmth, and liveliness of more than specific flavor and/or aroma components.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, Basil, Butter, Cream, Dandelion, Fennel, Fruity, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Green Wood, Hay, Lemon Zest, Malt, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Plum, Straw, Vegetal, White Grapes

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
derk

I remember this one being a grower and one I won’t forget. At least for a good while.

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61

Okay, another of my recent sipdowns is coming at you. I purchased a 100g pouch of this tea last year when I was trapped at home during what I shall from hereafter refer to as Plague Year #1. I was looking for some affordable teas to goof off with, so I was checking out each of What-Cha’s bargain bin offerings and snapping up the ones I thought were most interesting and/or that I thought I could get away with storing for a while should I develop the need. When I saw this tea, I just had to get it. I had never tried a Rwandan tea, and since What-Cha has always had a great track record with their African offerings, I assumed that I would be into this one. Upon trying it, I was reminded of why I should never make assumptions. I did not get around to cracking this tea open until I was preparing to go on a kayaking trip with my father, my cousin, and my cousin’s girlfriend. I stayed up the night before we left packing and cleaning my house and then brewed two large thermoses of this tea before my father and I hit the road. I thought it would be cool for us to try a tea that was wholly new to both of us and to compare notes while we were on the road. Well, it turned out that my father was dealing with sinusitis, so he couldn’t taste or smell anything, and I, well, really didn’t care for this tea at first. It eventually grew on me a little, but it was mostly a malty, woody, dry kind of tea that I ultimately felt could have used a bit more sweetness for balance.

For my review session, I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped 3 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. I did not rinse the leaves prior to steeping nor did I attempt any additional steeps.

Prior to steeping, the dry tea leaves presented aromas of baked bread, malt, and raisin. After steeping, I detected new aromas of cream, butter, roasted almond, and vanilla that were underscored by subtle scents of prune and honey. In the mouth, the tea liquor was dry and brisk, offering up notes of wood, grass, hay, roasted walnut, roasted hickory, roasted almond, cocoa, cream, butter, brown sugar, roasted sweet potato, baked bread, malt, leather, earth, orange zest, and roasted potato that were balanced by subtler notes of vanilla, smoke, raisin, prune, pear, honey, and cinnamon. Each sip finished with pronounced bitterness and astringency enveloping oily roasted nut notes and leathery, buttery, malty, woody impressions.

After trying this tea for the first time whilst on the road and hating it, I expected to hate it even more when I came back to it, but the more I tinkered with it, the more I appreciated it. It was not a knockout tea by any means, but it had a lot to offer, displaying much more depth and complexity than I initially thought was present. In my opinion, this tea worked best as a basic breakfast tea. It offered a quick hit of lasting energy to keep me going through the first part of the day and was just astringent, bitter, and flavorful enough to instantly cut through my morning grogginess. If, like me, you are not a morning person, putting something like this in your system as soon as you get moving is a great way to perk yourself up for the day. Unfortunately, if you are looking for something that offers a memorable and fun drinking experience on its own, a tea like this will likely not fit the bill. If it had possessed just a little more sweetness, it would have been more satisfying for me, but as it was, it was not the most exciting of African black teas. Just use this one as your morning pick-me-up, and you’ll probably be fine with it.

Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Baked Bread, Bitter, Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Earth, Grass, Hay, Honey, Leather, Malt, Nutty, Orange Zest, Pear, Potato, Prune, Raisins, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
derk

How was the kayaking trip?

eastkyteaguy

It was alright. I wasn’t really in shape for it, as it ended up being a little higher intensity than anticipated, but it could have been worse. I got to swim and wade around in the Holston River, pick paw paws off the banks of river islands, and pet a couple of cute kitties at the airbnb my cousin and his girlfriend rented. It was cool, but I did end up overexerting myself and kind of suffered through the last day and several days afterwards. As I continue to work on getting healthier, I hope to do it again.

mrmopar

Hard core drinkers always take our beverages wherever we go.

eastkyteaguy

True. So very, very true.

Evol Ving Ness

Haha, I used to begin my day by stocking my bag with a couple of thermoses and two or three carry canisters. Plus my carry mug. I stopped the insanity when the weight had negative impact on both my bag and my shoulder.

Of course, now, in semi-lockdown, I stay close to my tea kettle.

derk

It was probably good to get out in nature at least and get your heart pumping. Never had a paw paw fruit despite seeing the trees here and there in southern Ohio. What do they taste like? Unrelated, but related to your location, Mom’s been doing the whole family tree thing and found out there are still relatives outside of Hazard, one of whom she recently met. Maybe one day you and I will have tea.

eastkyteaguy

derk, paw paws are similar to fruits like cherimoya and soursop (they’re in the same family). The flesh is very creamy, and the taste is similar to a banana, but in my opinion, a little more acidic. Think of them like a tart banana custard in fruit form. Also, you have family near Hazard. That’s terrifying. I live just shy of an hour northeast of Perry County, but I am getting ready for a potential move to Lexington. I seem to recall you mentioning that you were from Ohio or that you lived there for some time. I actually went to school near Cincinnati for a little over a year. I also used to work for a company that had a regional hub in Hazard and had to drive there for trainings on a regular basis. If you haven’t been, Hazard is a rough, strange place. Eastern Kentucky, as a whole, is like that though.

derk

Yeh, I’m from SW Ohio, had only been in and around Cincinnati a few times. I feel like my mom said something about Pikeville, too. I imagine that’s closer to your location. I have an idea of what you mean when you say Hazard/eastern KY is a rough strange place. Got that feeling along the Ohio River and throughout the southern tip of Ohio. Regardless, and this might sound strange, but my sense of place is somewhere around eastern KY and into WV. I imagine when I’m an old crone, I’ll probably look for property that way. Hope the potential move to Lexington is an improvement in life for you! Please keep the tea notes and life updates coming :)

eastkyteaguy

derk, Pikeville is about 25-30 minutes east of where I currently live. Also, and this is just me offering some advice as someone whose entire family is from this area and who grew up here before moving away to college and then coming back, most of eastern Kentucky is probably not the place to which one should consider relocating, especially as one ages. Many people from outside of the area have this very romanticized view of the place that bears little resemblance to reality. The infrastructure has always been terrible, and it’s crumbling by the day. A lot of people I have spoken with don’t understand that you have to drive everywhere here, often on poorly planned, poorly marked, and terribly maintained roads, and you often have to cover long distances to get anywhere. If I want to shop for more than the basics, I have to drive to Lexington, which is 2 hours west of where I live, or either Huntington or Charleston in West Virginia, 1.5 and about 2 hours northeast respectively. I do lot of shopping online. A lot of the conveniences that one can expect in urban areas or in more affluent parts of the country just don’t exist here or are much more limited if they do. Medical care is sketchy and extremely expensive. Utilities are unreliable and often overpriced. The weather is unpredictable and often miserable. The culture of the area is very harsh, backwards, and unwelcoming to outsiders. If you don’t receive outright hostility from the start, expect to either be ignored or to receive a thin veneer of phony hospitality that will never wholly cover up obvious resentment. It’s very difficult to date or make friends. I’ve pretty much given up. People here also think that manipulating, backstabbing, or otherwise taking advantage of others around them is a demonstration of how clever they are and should command respect. This attitude is just part of the culture. People like to think it doesn’t exist, but it does. One of the highest compliments that can be bestowed on you, especially if you’re a man, is to be referred to as a horse trader, which basically means you get away with habitually screwing people over for your own benefit. Oh, and the job market is terrible. Employers tend to favor locals, especially friends and family, and they often don’t want to pay competitive wages or offer adequate benefits. If you thought the communities along the Ohio seemed odd and rough, they are high class compared to the communities to the south in the hills and mountains. Don’t think quaint mountain or farming communities, think poorly planned and maintained little hubs surrounded by post-industrial wastelands out in the countryside that have been wholly or partially reclaimed by nature. Seriously, there are places here that look like they have been beamed in from The Third World. You’d have to see to believe it, but it’s still kind of unbelievable even when seen. The opioid epidemic has also hit this area very hard. Lots of places just aren’t safe, especially at night. Honestly, if you want to get an idea of the cultural and environmental damage the mining industry has left behind, this is a great place. Otherwise, it’s not much fun. If I had made better decisions when I was younger and some of my plans had worked out for me, I would not still be here. Where I live now is not a place I would choose to live. I’m working on getting out though.

Should you ever feel like touring this area, there are some nice places and some worthwhile things to do. Pikeville is a decent town. Morehead is actually a nice little college town. Driving through farm country in northeastern Kentucky is also really nice. You can go see some pretty rural churches and cemeteries as well as rustic covered bridges in and around places like Flemingsburg outside of the eastern counties exclusively contained in the Eastern Kentucky Coalfield. It’s not all terrible, but I think coming to this area from the Pacific West would be very difficult. I hope I don’t sound condescending when I say this is an area that people usually try to escape, even those from the area. A lot of people who move here from the outside don’t last unless they can step into a high paying job in an in-demand field.

derk

It never crossed my mind that you were being condescending.

May I be clear and say my desire to move there is not based upon a quaint, romantic ideal. I want to say I understand the devastation caused by a complicated mix of environmental damage, poverty as a result of exploitation and widespread drug abuse, a lack of resources and infrastructure, and religious zealotry. Understanding and living are different issues. I won’t claim to have experienced the effects of more than a few of those major disadvantages, and I have experienced them only in moderation.

This is better left for private message when I have the energy to respond in full. While I am not too worried about exposing my personal life on the internet, this is not often the place for it.

Thank you for the truly thoughtful, reality-based response; it’s greatly appreciated and something to ruminate on. Really.

eastkyteaguy

Agreed, I’m messaging you now.

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74

It seems as if I am in the mood to review Shui Xian today. This was another recent sipdown of mine, from about 2 weeks ago. I recall drinking this tea the day after I drank and composed notes for the Zhangping Shui Xian black tea mini-cake I just reviewed. To this point, I have found that Zhangping Shui Xian is very hit or miss for me. This one was not terrible, but it also displayed some notable flaws that I found irksome.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped the entire tea cake in approximately 165 ml of 194 F water for 10 seconds. This initial infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea cake produced aromas of cream, butter, custard, gardenia, and orange blossom. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of grass and honeysuckle. The first infusion introduced a sugarcane aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, grass, sugarcane, lemon, and green wood that were chased by hints of orange blossom, green apple, pear, honeysuckle, gardenia, and baked bread. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of minerals, green apple, plum, baked bread, cucumber, and white grape. Stronger and more immediately presented notes of orange blossom, green apple, honeysuckle, and pear greeted each sip as this tea reached its peak, while mineral, custard, plum, lettuce, apricot, white grape, orange zest, and cucumber notes also emerged. Hints of spinach, coriander, and mushroom persistently lurked around the fringes, making themselves most apparent on each swallow. As the tea faded, the mushroom presence swelled while notes of minerals, cream, butter, baked bread, sugarcane, grass, and lettuce continued to be emphasized. Fleeting impressions of orange zest, honeysuckle, spinach, orange blossom, plum, pear, white grape, and green apple dominated each swallow.

Since I am most used to light roasted Zhangping Shui Xian, this tea represented a return to more familiar territory for me. Just about everything I would expect to encounter in a light roasted Zhangping Shui Xian cake was present in abundance, but I did note some issues that I should take the time to illustrate. First, I noticed that the leaf quality in the cake I received was terrible. I have no clue whether or not this was an issue with many or all of these cakes, but there was a ton of grit and dust on the inside of the cake, so as it loosened and unraveled over the course of my drinking session, more and more ground-up leaf and stem gunk made its way into my cup. Trying to filter it out was both a nightmare and nigh impossible. Second, this struck me as being rather large for a Zhangping Shui Xian cake. I think the cake I received weighed around 9 or 10 grams, and unfortunately, I did not have a gaiwan large enough to accommodate it. I did the best I could with what I had, but the end result was that I effectively overloaded my largest available gaiwan. Normally, that would not have been a big deal, but this tea displayed such powerful grassiness, bitterness, and astringency on the early infusions that getting through to the good stuff it had to offer was a chore. I noticed those qualities remained throughout my drinking session, though to a much lesser extent, so while I may have been able to rein them in by brewing this tea in a larger and more appropriate vessel, it is extremely unlikely that I would have been able to fully tame them, let alone eliminate them entirely. Overall, this tea was far from terrible, but it did strike me as having some issues. It was enjoyable, but it displayed enough roughness and unevenness to limit its appeal for me. Those of you who have this tea in your collections and have yet to try it, be aware that you will need a fairly sizable brewing vessel for it, and you will need to pay careful attention to the time and spacing of each steep should you be set on brewing it gong fu.

Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Butter, Coriander, Cream, Cucumber, Custard, Gardenias, Grass, Green Apple, Green Wood, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Lettuce, Mineral, Mushrooms, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Pear, Plum, Spinach, Sugarcane, White Grapes

Preparation
9 g 6 OZ / 165 ML
Daylon R Thomas

The pillows I got were just as finicky. They were not as flexible as they had been the first time I had them, but you really have to be careful to get them right.

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This has to be one of the most unique teas I’ve tried. Goishicha is a fermented tea made of whole bancha leaves layered. Do a search for the Japanese Tea Sommelier blog and you’ll find a great page offering much information and pictures of the process.

As I mentioned in my latest gyokuro tasting note, I am unaccustomed to brewing Japanese teas. The package directions from What-Cha say 1 square per cup, 203F for 4-5 minutes. I thought I’d try this out in my black clay teapot that does well with Japanese greens. One square, roughly 110mL, 205F. I did give a rinse, and when steeping the first pot, poured off the tea in increments to get a feel for the level of pungency I found acceptable. Steeped many times.

Dry leaf scent, brewed aroma and taste are all very similar. Pungent, sour, and medicinal with notes of soy sauce and dried fermented lemon peel, like one would find in middle eastern cuisine, a leathery and mushroom midtone and a hint of fermented mulberry. Finishes with a very light licorice root type of sweetness and an almost imperceptible florality, some camphor. A few light burps. I find it to be simultaneously gently warming and cooling, perhaps multi-functional — a brew that could be had when out in the cold or when you have a cold; it also seems like it would go well with a rich dinner of stewed meat and greens with bread or rice, or as an after-dinner digestive. Has the inner strength to be boiled.

While this is a fermented tea, it is nothing like aged or shou pu’er or other heicha. I could recommend this for adventurous palates. It’s something I’d like to keep around but it is not a tea that I would have often.

Thank you much, White Antlers, for sharing. I will soon compare this to a less aged goishicha from Yunomi.

Flavors: Berry, Camphor, Flowers, Leather, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Licorice, Medicinal, Mushrooms, Salt, Sour, Soy Sauce

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56

It’s a lovely fall Sunday here in the middle of nowhere, and predictably, I’m sick again. Our weather has been fluctuating from very warm, rainy, and humid to cool and dry every few days, and as a result, I have been dealing with constant allergy and sinus flare-ups. Yesterday I was so drained of energy and felt so awful that all I managed to do after dragging myself through the workday was plop down on my couch with my cats and watch Spirited Away on dvd. Some people with real jobs and lives go out on Friday nights. Clearly, I am not one of those people. Anyway, as I’m stuck home sick today, I figured I may as well be somewhat productive and crank out a few tea reviews.

Before I get to the meat of this review, I should state that I very likely did not get to try this tea at its best. I normally try to consume every tea I buy or am gifted within 12-36 months of harvest, unless it’s something like pu-erh, which I know I can just throw back for however long I want or need. Unfortunately, that did not happen with this tea. This black tea mini-cake was produced during the 2017 harvest, and I just got around to trying it a little less than two weeks ago. It was supposed to be consumed within 36 months of production, as opposed to 4+ years. Luckily for me, it seemed to have held up well in storage, though I could tell it had lost some vibrancy and complexity. I’m not sure that was a major loss, though, as I kind of doubt this tea would have done much for me had I tried it when it was younger and at or closer to its prime.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped the 6 gram mini-cake in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 10 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry mini-cake presented aromas of malt, chocolate, lemon, and orange zest. After the rinse, aromas of honey, maple syrup, sugarcane, blackberry, blueberry, and roasted almond appeared. The first infusion introduced a baked bread aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered thin notes of malt, raisin, chocolate, lemon, sugarcane, blueberry, and baked bread that were chased by hints of honey, brown sugar, tobacco, roasted almond, blackberry, and maple syrup. The subsequent infusions quickly brought forth aromas of raisin, cinnamon, brown sugar, black raspberry, tobacco, and mulberry. Stronger and more immediately detectable impressions of maple syrup, blackberry, roasted almond, and honey came out in the mouth alongside mineral, black raspberry, and mulberry notes. Hints of orange zest, earth, cinnamon, sweet potato, and wood were also present. As the tea faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, chocolate, lemon, and roasted almond that were balanced by subtler notes of sweet potato, sugarcane, honey, earth, wood, tobacco, and orange zest.

This was an interesting offering, but it did not quite satisfy me. I liked a lot of the aroma and flavor components that were present in this tea, but they never fully came together. This tea also faded rather quickly (perhaps due to its age) and displayed a little roughness around the edges. It produced a very uneven drinking experience overall.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Earth, Fruity, Honey, Lemon, Malt, Maple Syrup, Mineral, Orange Zest, Raisins, Raspberry, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Evol Ving Ness

Hope you feel reasonably human soon!

derk

Hey guy, I feel you. Allergies here in May-July leave me a husk of a human. Spirited Away and cats sounds like a mellow recovery.

eastkyteaguy

Thanks, gang. Going to be starting some medication for it tomorrow since I’m teetering on the brink of a full-blown sinus infection.

LuckyMe

Ghibli movies are always a good choice for anime. Hope you get feeling better soon!

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And it’s a belatedly posted sipdown!

#long time ago internet hiatus sipdown

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May 2021 harvest.

I cannot easily understand gyokuro. Same deal with matcha. Lack of familiarity. If Marsh P’s and Obubu’s/What-Cha’s tasting notes weren’t there, I’d say it tastes like chlorophyll. But I can see the peas and melon and umami. More sweetish pea forward than fruity or umami. So… cholorophyll. Last few steeps bring light notes of dry flowers and like nut skins/brazil nuts. I will say it doesn’t have the 我不知道什么 (that’s me practicing Mandarin) of Chinese green teas. Too mellow? I do feel wonderful after drinking this in the morning.

I have no idea what I’m supposed to do to brew gyokuro. Willful ignorance, mostly because I don’t own the proper teaware. Into the Taiwanese black clay teapot it goes. No transferring of water from pot to cup to pot to whatever, just pour 160F water onto leaf in pot, steep till it feels right, pour through a strainer, peel back the layer of mushy leaf from the drain holes, lick the leaf off my finger and refill the pot.

Flavors: Floral, Green, Melon, Nuts, Peas, Smooth, Sweet, Warm Grass, Thick, Umami

Preparation
4 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
Cameron B.

I don’t have a ton of experience with gyokuro either. The recommendations I’ve seem were very low and slow, like 140 degrees for 90 seconds or so.

derk

Thank you for the pointer. Next time I brew a gyokuro, I will somewhat follow the recommendations you’ve seen (meaning I have a kettle that doesn’t go below 160F, so I’ll have to estimate). I used 160F, with the first steep being around a minute every time. Each subsequent steep received the same temp but longer infusions and as much untimed as the first. This gyokuro took my treatment just fine and didn’t, with my limited knowledge of the tea, expose any flaws.

CrowKettle

Due to imprecise kettle heating/temp measurement at my place (lowest setting is 175F), I’ve found gyokuro can handle a bit warmer than the 140-160F range suggested, but I do try to adjust the steep times and leafing (wing it 15-45s depending). I can often drag sessions out for a lot of cups. Imho it’s a pretty forgiving tea type.

I’m not super knowledgeable about them either, but try not to overthink these fancy guys. I just know they often provide me with some of my “matcha flavour” fix (on resteep repeat) without me having to going to the effort of whisking! :)

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85

Alright, I’m posting one more review before signing off for the day. Like the last couple I have posted, this one is for another of my recent sipdowns. By the time I got around to trying this tea, I was no stranger to Yunnan purple black teas, but it had been at least a year since I had tried one. Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable, satisfying offering.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick 5 second rinse (I have always preferred shorter rinses for Chinese and Taiwanese black teas for whatever reason), I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 7 seconds, 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, and 15 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of malt, grapefruit, blood orange, cedar, dark chocolate, blackberry, cinnamon, and peach. After the rinse, aromas of red grape, grass, brown sugar, and roasted peanut appeared. The first infusion introduced a roasted almond aroma. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, malt, earth, roasted almond, dark chocolate, red grape, blackberry, and blood orange that were balanced by subtler notes of cinnamon, cooked green beans, brown sugar, baked bread, roasted peanut, and grapefruit. The subsequent infusions quickly brought out aromas of pine, baked bread, lemon, minerals, and camphor. Stronger and more obvious impressions of grapefruit, cooked green beans, baked bread, and brown sugar appeared in the mouth alongside notes of minerals, pine, lemon, pear, red apple, black cherry, and plum. I also detected hints of grass, peach, cedar, camphor, smoke, sugarcane, and maple candy. As the tea faded, the liquor shifted to emphasize notes of minerals, malt, baked bread, roasted almond, brown sugar, and cream that were chased by fleeting impressions of black cherry, blackberry, plum, blood orange, grass, grapefruit, pine, red grape, pear, maple candy, and dark chocolate.

This was a very solid Yunnan purple black tea with a ton to offer. Honestly, its depth and complexity came close to being a little overwhelming at times, but I avoided letting this tea get the better of me. It was also very refined and layered in the way it expressed itself and displayed a playful, energetic presence. In the end, this was a very nice tea, but it was also one that I thought could have been just a bit more focused. I think had some of its subtler flavor components been a bit clearer and more amplified, it would have felt a little more balanced and drinkable than it came off as being.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Blackberry, Brown Sugar, Camphor, Candy, Cedar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Grapefruit, Grapes, Grass, Green Beans, Lemon, Malt, Maple, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Pine, Plum, Red Apple, Smoke, Sugarcane

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
derk

Those Yunnan wild purple blacks operate at high frequency.

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64

This was another of my more recent sipdowns. It was also a tea that was wholly new to me. I normally don’t think of oolongs when I think of Ceylonese tea and prefer to stick with the more familiar and readily available Ceylonese black teas while occasionally giving some time to a Ceylonese green or white tea, but when I saw this tea, I was immediately intrigued. I purchased it shortly after What-Cha listed it, but naturally, I didn’t get around to trying it until a little earlier this month. While I loved this tea’s unique and appealing presentation, it was not entirely successful otherwise, as I found the tea liquor to be a bit lacking in body, depth, and complexity.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a standard 10 second rinse, I steeped approximately 6 grams of the formed tea leaves in 4 ounces of 185 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minute, 1 minute 15 seconds, 1 minute 30 seconds, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and 20 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of honey, malt, sweet potato, and brown sugar. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of cream, butter, and sorghum molasses underscored by a subtle stewed tomato scent. The first infusion introduced aromas of sugarcane and candied orange. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, sorghum molasses, sweet potato, and honey that were balanced by subtler impressions of sugarcane, malt, brown sugar, minerals, pear, and roasted almond. The subsequent infusions revealed aromas of apricot, plum, tamarind, pear, and apple that were balanced by subtle baked bread scents. Stronger and more immediately detectable notes of minerals, pear, roasted almond, sugarcane, and malt appeared in the mouth alongside impressions of apricot, tamarind, plum, apple, and lemon zest. Hints of baked bread, stewed tomato, and candied orange were also present. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor began to emphasize notes of minerals, sorghum molasses, cream, malt, lemon zest, sweet potato, honey, and sugarcane that were underscored by lingering hints of apple, pear, roasted almond, butter, candied orange, and brown sugar.

This was a very interesting tea with a ton of longevity, but it was just lacking some characteristics that would have made it more appealing to me. As mentioned towards the end of this review’s introductory paragraph, the liquor was a bit thin and struck me as being slightly lacking in depth and complexity. At times, it also came off as being somewhat unbalanced, as the aroma and flavor components sometimes fought one another. This was also a very, very sweet tea. That may not be an issue for some people, but I often found the sweetness overwhelming. In the end, I am certainly glad that I took the opportunity to try this tea. I actually did enjoy it to a certain extent, though I also feel that its flaws were very noticeable and virtually impossible to overlook. Still, it was definitely not an offering to avoid.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Apricot, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Candy, Cream, Fruity, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Orange, Pear, Plum, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Sierge Krьstъ

I remember this one from years ago, my expectation was oolongy as a misnomer for blue.

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77

Hey, all. After five days of laziness, I have returned with a new review. This was one of my more recent sipdowns, as I finished my 25g pouch of this tea late last week. Sadly, this ended up being a tea that I wish I enjoyed more than I did. Normally, I am a huge fan of Assam black teas, but this one I struggled with consistently.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I steeped approximately 3 grams of loose tea leaves in 8 ounces of 203 F water for 5 minutes. I did not rinse the leaves prior to steeping nor did I attempt any additional infusions.

Prior to infusion, the dry tea leaves presented aromas of malt, sweet potato, baked bread, and caramel. After infusion, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, honey, cream, butter, and roasted potato that were underscored by subtler aromas of tomato and menthol. In the mouth, the tea liquor was thin and biting, presenting notes of malt, cream, butter, baked bread, sweet potato, roasted almond, roasted potato, lemon, leather, and roasted walnut that were balanced by subtler impressions of wood, tomato, grapefruit pith, pear, apple, plum, honey, menthol, molasses, caramel, orange zest, red grape, and watermelon rind. Each sip finished in an oily, malty, nutty, and leathery fashion before a swell of bitterness and astringency arose after each swallow.

Honestly, I am still not entirely sure how I feel about this tea. It was complex and presented some unique aromas and flavors, but I also did not find the texture and body of the tea liquor to be all that appealing and found the way it expressed itself to be a bit rough, inconsistent, and unfocused overall. I have no clue where the folks at What-Cha picked up on raspberry jam notes, because I found nothing of the sort in this tea. It struck me as being an astringent, tart, bitter, oily, leathery, nutty, malty tea with some pleasant starchy, vegetal, and sweetly fruity notes scattered throughout. I was hoping for more of either a grassy, vegetal presence or some sort of minty or otherwise herbal presence, since I lately tend to notice such characteristics in teas produced from the clonal Panetola 126 cultivar, but I found such notes to be a bit lacking in this tea. Even when I backed off on the water temperature and reduced the steep time in some of my other brewing attempts, the results were very similar to what I described in the paragraph above. Overall, this was not a bad tea, but it was not quite to my liking. I tend to prefer smoother, creamier, maltier Assam black teas, so this tea did not quite hit the spot for me. Perhaps I’m being a bit hard on it or expected too much, but to me, this was just a pretty good offering. I would not rush to try it again.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Astringent, Baked Bread, Bitter, Butter, Caramel, Cream, Fruity, Grapefruit, Grapes, Honey, Leather, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Molasses, Orange Zest, Pear, Plum, Potato, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
tea-sipper

Thanks for reporting on this one. I’m always looking for Hattialli!

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This is a backlog from a couple of weeks ago, and I can not remember if this sample came from derk or White Antlers. I need to start writing these things down so I can thank people properly! Many thanks to whomever sent it!

This sample is labeled Summer, July 2020.

I liked this tea more than most other tasters here did, but perhaps that is because it has been a long time since I have had a good quality unflavored black tea other than the same (good) ones that I drink frequently with Ashman. Because caffeine has been keeping me awake, we stopped having evening gong fu, and there are few plain black teas that he enjoys, so I end up drinking Bailin Gong Fu…..a lot.

And this was just different! It isn’t a bust your chops wake up tea. It has the gentler nature often found in many Fujian and Taiwanese black teas. It is more floral and fruity than savory or roasty. The quintessential “tea” flavor that makes me think of a truly fine Ceylon orange pekoe is tucked in with honey and fruit.

It made a really nice morning mental vacation on a day when I could really use it. (Those are frequent for everyone now!)

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The air was thick with humidity today. The marine layer that deposited a fine mist in the air this morning decided to stick around, leaving the day overcast and balmy. In an introverted mood, this evening I finally treated myself to a solo sushi dinner as congratulations for promotion. The booth I sat in gives an unobstructed view to the mountains in the east which were shrouded in fog to a low elevation. I could feel the possibility of rain approaching. I checked the forecast, and sure enough, it called for showers tonight. At home, as I now sit, I can hear the sound of passing cars on wet pavement.

I’ve been drinking the four Japanese teas in my cupboard this week, as the change of the angle of the sun has signaled that autumn is approaching. Nevermind that we don’t get much of an autumn here compared to my home state. If we are lucky to get rain, the transition from dry season to wet can be rather abrupt around November. The rain this evening marks the second out of season precipitation we’ve had in a few weeks. I pray for more rain.

This makes a very pleasant bowl tea for my mood and the weather. The leaf is in great shape, lots of whole leaf and it’s all very shiny. Shiny, somehow both pliable and brittle leaves various shades of roasted brown that sink within several minutes, leaving only the stems to float. Mellow taste. A broth of sweet mushroom and roasted barley, dry florals, a little bit of soy sauce. The florality is the same as what I get from What-Cha’s Okinawa sencha and from Totem Tea’s Kuwacha mulberry leaf processed like sencha.

This is an interesting tea. I think it is considered fermented. I will have to do some reading to learn more.

Flavors: Broth, Caramel, Floral, Licorice, Mushrooms, Nuts, Roasted Barley, Smooth, Soy Sauce, Spring Water, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML
gmathis

If I haven’t told you how much I love reading your reviews, I am now. Your quiet evening sounds absolutely delicious.

derk

The reverence is mutual.

Lexie Aleah

Your writing gives me chills here!

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