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Recent Tasting Notes
I don’t know why I ignored this tea for five years. I love Bai Hao, so I must have just forgotten about it. I steeped 5 g of my 10 g sample in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 30, 20, 20, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of honey and stonefruit. The first steep has notes of honey, faint malt, grass, and flowers (orchids?). I get faint plums and berries in the second steep, though they’re more in the aroma than the taste. The third and fourth steeps have notes of cranberries, currants, sap, pleasant sourness, honey, flowers, nutmeg, baked bread, and grass. It kind of reminds me of a GABA oolong. The last few steeps have flavours of GABA tang, honey, dried fruit, and sap.
I really struggled to describe the taste of this tea and found it to be all over the place in terms of flavour. While it had many of the notes I associate with Bai Hao, it more closely resembled a GABA oolong to me. This could be because of its age, although I have other older teas of this type and they haven’t changed that much. I’m sending my remaining 5 g to Derk, who might be able to figure this tea out.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Berries, Cranberry, Dried Fruit, Floral, Grass, Honey, Malt, Nutmeg, Orchid, Pleasantly Sour, Plums, Sap, Stonefruits, Tangy
Lunchtime cup. Another round of this and this time it’s a smooth mix of tangy-malty-creamy-fruity with that salty finish and a gentle fruity-creamy-cooling aftertaste. Also the dry leaf now smells like Grape Nuts cereal. Funny how aroma/taste perceptions change on different days and with the addition of food. But not funny. :D
A first flush Darjeeling composed of a cultivar propagated by Rohini of 2 Japanese cultivars.
The dry leaf has a unique, gentle aroma, floral but not the typical orange blossom. It’s slightly powdery, deeper. Bluish-purple like violets and blueberries. I think I also smell dried fruit sweetness, like raisins but not quite. Musk and chili leaf overtones, a basmati rice undertone.
Difficult to describe… Very clean, light, juicy, nectarlike body with a mentholated cooling, mouth-watering finish. The sweetness sits low and is delicate, like dried fruits, apricots. Very light fruity-grainy-malty taste with something tangy. I guess that’s where What-Cha’s descriptor of green olive comes into play. Delicate violet florals. The second steep reveals more on an apricot-like tanginess, maybe dry grass, a hint of that basmati rice burlap, and that very clean, salty mouth-watering finish.
It’s a fantastic, delicate thirst-quencher. Really digging it.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Blueberry, Cream, Dried Fruit, Dry Grass, Grain, Lime, Malt, Menthol, Nectar, Olives, Raisins, Rice, Rose, Salt, Smooth, Spicy, Tangy, Violet
Rando Experiment Note:
I decided to combine this one with the Fujian Black Jasmine I got from What-Cha. I was bad and did not measure, but I eyeballed it beginning with the black wiry jasmine black leaves, and then topped it with the golden Jin Jun Mei as the foreground. I tossed them up, and poured some water that I should have heated more. I let it sit for 30 seconds, and was surprised at the punch of flavor. It tasted like a sugary lychee candy or a Japanese cold drink you get from a store. I was impressed by my lukewarm accident.
Moving on to a more proper steep of a hot 195 F and two minutes, this one had lychee as a main note, followed by jasmine, rose, malt, grains, and finally thick dark chocolate. Viscous, silky texture, and medium body. I finished it quickly, but sweet flavor and aroma remained in my empty cup. It remained like brown sugar at the bottom of a cookie pan…but FanCY.
Anyway, this is a fun note. I usually don’t blend my teas since I’m a purist, but I have a lot of tea, and figured this make a fun combo of note. I didn’t expect the tea to be as rich as it was. This little experimental session is credit to this teas desert like qualities and to the quality of the scenting of the Jasmine.
This is a newer Jin Jun Mei that What-Cha has started selling in the last few years. I personally have had an on and off again relationship with this variety of tea because they can be very vegetal for a black tea and can have very strong tobacco notes. The older one that was sold was excellent, deep, complex, thick, and rich. This one is a lot softer, but instensley aromatic and flavorful.
What-Cha’s notes are a bit unusual for what you usually see, but it get’s “sweet malt loaf” and “subtle rose hints” in its description and as always they’re reliable when I purchase their teas. The rose was actually not subtle for me personally, but was extremely natural and very welcomed. The tea is breadsy, savory, and buttery as well as floral and rosy. There’s some malt and sweet potato too, but the push and pull of the dry and viscosity in the texture make it more grainy and breadsy by approximation.
So far, I have not gotten too much difference from it western in a tumbler and Gong Fu this morning. It’s very sweet, smooth, drinkable, and pleasing. I could see some people using the “chocolate” moniker on this one when the tea cools down, nevermind that’s just Fujian Wuyi quality.
I don’t really have more to add on this one other than the fact I wish I got more. It’s a very soft and refined black tea that combines floral with savory and malty. I highly recommend those who like more floral blacks. I wish I could write more, but that’s what I have for now.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Chocolate, Grain, Malt, Rose, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes
It’s been a while since I had buddier blacks, and since I got some, I craved more since the last year I had some. Most of my notes of late will consist of black teas, mostly Taiwanese blacks and Fujian blacks.
I’m also making this one quick and will add more in the future. I had this as morning tumbler fuel, and it’s definitely chocolatey with more emphasis on the malt. I didn’t expect the tea was going to be as bright as it was with the malt. It’s not bitter, astringent, or strong, but there’s some nice briskness. I personally got citrus, sweet potato, dandelion, and brassy tannin from it from the two western steeps in the tumbler giving the tea a more sunny visual in my head as I drank it. It definitely woke me up with its Qi. The flavor is still smooth and great without being as bitter as the usual Assams or occasional Keemums, though it’s powerful enough to be a breakfast tea.
I very much like it, but need to do some Gong Fu before I rate it. I still recommend it and will share. I look forward to see what other people write about it on here.
Flavors: Chocolate, Citrus Zest, Dandelion, Malt, Smooth, Sweet Potatoes, Tannin
This was my second mystery oolong from the Black Friday sale. As someone who’s not a fan of roasted oolongs, I did not approach this tea with the same enthusiasm as I did the Jade Oolong. Hoping to minimize the roast, I steeped it as I would a wuyi oolong: 6 g in a 120 ml teapot at 200F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of chocolate, honey, smoke, and roast. The first steep reveals that the roast is not as pronounced as I feared. I get honey, toasted grain, roast, chicory, smoke, and faint flowers. A mineral note appears in steep two, but sadly, no chocolate. I get a muddled dark chocolate note in the next couple steeps, along with wood, more roast, and lots of honey and grain. There’s also a floral and grassy aftertaste. The next four rounds offer consistent flavours of honey, cereal, nuts, mild roast, and grass, along with a slick body. The last few steeps are full of roast and minerals.
This is a solid, comforting tea that does not display much flavour variation. To be honest, I found it a bit boring, although its profile is not one I gravitate toward. This is pretty inoffensive and does show some characteristics I associate with Wuyi oolongs, but I won’t be sad to see it go.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Floral, Grain, Grass, Honey, Mineral, Nuts, Roasted, Smoke, Toasty, Wood
I got this as a mystery tea in my Black Friday What-Cha haul. It’s something I probably never would have ordered, but it fits my interest in Taiwanese oolongs. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of orange blossom, honeysuckle, and cream. The first steep has notes of butter, baked bread, lilac, orange blossom, honeysuckle, cream, lavender, faint fruit, and grass. The fruit resolves itself into cantaloupe and citrus in the second steep, and the orange blossom becomes stronger. I also get hints of corn and spinach. The grassy, vegetal, and spinach notes grow stronger in the third steep, but those citrus, orange blossom, and melon notes do as well. By the fifth steep, I get more vegetal flavours, plus minerals and umami. However, it’s still full of orange blossom, honeysuckle, lilac, and other flowers I can’t put a name to. As the session progresses, the vegetal, umami, and mineral flavours gradually take over, although the tea retains its florality for a long time.
This oolong punches well above its price point and I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected. It has a wide range of floral notes and the hints of melon and lavender were a pleasant surprise. While it’s not as nuanced as a high mountain oolong, it’s definitely one of the nicer low elevation teas I’ve had in a while.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Cantaloupe, Citrus, Corn Husk, Cream, Floral, Grass, Honeysuckle, Lavender, Mineral, Orange Blossom, Spinach, Umami, Vegetal
Trying a new tea from Jun Chiyabari is always exciting. This one is clearly trying to go head to head against 2nd flush Darjeelings. There is no doubt imo that it can successfully compete in that category. However, it also seems to remind me a little bit of Ye Sheng black teas from Yunnan in its wet leaf aroma and of some Taiwan black teas in its aftertaste. The one thing that sets it apart is the mouthfeel, which is quite unique. The liquor is voluminous, active and very smooth, it is biting without astringency and it induces a nice warming sensation throughout the mouth.
I find that Royale Ruby benefits from longer infusion times initially, otherwise one may find that it takes a while to get going. In any case, when it does, it displays a beautiful sweet, woody and bitter character with pronounced muscatel notes. The aftertaste is cooling, sweet and floral, but without much of honey-like flavours – there are more of lighter and higher florals here.
Flavors: Biting, Bitter, Cookie, Cream, Earth, Floral, Meat, Muscatel, Smooth, Spicy, Sweet, Wood
Happy National Apricot Day! For those participating in the Sipdown Challenge on the forums, today is the day to drink an apricot tea or a tea with apricot flavor notes! This is mine for the day!
One of my sipdown goals was to try to fit in more gong fu sessions this year. I pretty much only have the time for them on weekends/days off (they simply do not fit into my working schedule in the slightest) so this Saturday morning I decided to have a session with this sample of the September 2017 harvest I received from Derk, many a moon ago. Thanks Derk!
120ml mini pot | 4.45g | 185F | 20s/30s/40s/50s/60s
Dry leaf smells of hay and wildflowers. Once wet, the leaf aroma turns to wet hay, dandelions, and bitter melon. The aroma from the cup smells like hay, honeysuckle, apricots, and sour plum. The flavor is lovely even on the first steep; a fresh and crisp vegetal hay note, soft and sweet wildflowers (particularly honeysuckle and dandelion), pollen, a soft, sweet stonefruit note (it keeps shifting between apricot, nectarine, and plum on each sip), and a very subtle citrus note toward the end of the sip. A melon flavor appears on my tongue in the aftertaste. The second infusion boasted a little more tang, with the stonefruit/citrus notes popping a bit more at the front of the sip, and the hay/florality settling on my tongue toward the end. The melon note had turn a bit sharper/more of a bitter melon, as well. As the tea cooled, I got a strong impression of honeyed apricots and pollen. The citrus note became very strong and lemony on the third steep. Hay, dandelion/pollen, citrus, and melon were the main notes for the remainder of the session.
I’m really enjoying white teas, and I like that they hold up to my unintentional aging well. Thanks, Derk!
Flavors: Apricot, Bitter Melon, Citrus, Dandelion, Floral, Flowers, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Melon, Nectar, Plums, Smooth, Stonefruits
Finally finished off my last 50g pouch from What-Cha, and now I only have two small samplers left to clear out from the company, both of which are just the right size for my little mini pumpkin pot for gong fu sessions — a style of brewing I don’t do often and must be reserved for weekends when I have the time. This was an unopened packet from the Spring 2017 harvest.
160ml mini pot | 10g | 205F | Rinse/25s/30s/35s/40s/45s
There is a strong bitter melon and lilac perfume aroma from the steeped leaves after the first steep. The liquor smells mostly very sweet, like lilacs, honeysuckle, vanilla, cream, with a slight sharpness a bit little bitter melon rind or sour plum. The flavor is heavily floral, tasting of orchid/lilac and leaving a coating perfuminess on the tongue, with a slight honey/cream sweetness followed by a bit of a vegetal astringency. Some of the unpleasant coating and astringency began to mellow as early as the second steep, when I noticed quite a difference in leaf expansion. While still predominantly floral, there was a little more of an underlying vegetal note peeking through as well, a bit like sweet peas and grass. The floral started to be much less aggressive by the third steep, becoming more balanced with the vegetal notes, and the tea became a lot more pleasant at that point; a leafy green flavor followed by orchid/lilac sweetness. The tea seemed noticably weaker already by steep four, but on the flip side I was starting to like it a bit better in those later steeps just because the florality wasn’t leaving that unpleasant coating feeling on my tongue anymore…
Last steep ended up all over my lap, the table, my laptop… just everywhere. Cause you know who doesn’t have one of those fancy gongfu tea tables? This person. Session was prompty over at that point.
I love floral notes, but I didn’t really like the mouthfeel of this one. It felt coating/aggressive and had a perfumey quality that was unpleasant for portions of the session. I tend to like Taiwanese oolongs in general, but this particular type isn’t a favorite.
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter Melon, Cream, Floral, Grass, Honeysuckle, Lettuce, Mineral, Orchid, Peas, Perfume, Plums, Vanilla, Vegetal
I hope everyone is safe. Alistair, I hope you and your family are doing safe under the UK’s new lockdown!
My notes today are going to brief. I won’t go into depth into all of them, but I will wax poetic about the things that strike me. I’m still getting to know this one, but here it goes: this is a very solid tea. I wish I tried it before the Shan Lin Xi and Li Shan Blacks, but those are incredible to say the least.
Like the notes say, it’s more of a honey black tea. It’s clearly black tea, and it kinda reminded me of some Assams in its berry hints. It’s on the sweeter end, but mediumly malty and definitely floral. It’s a little brisker than I expected, like Assams and Ceylons, but it’s a hair more sophisticated than those in its floral-malt-tea combo. Gong fu has yielded more nuance in the berry notes so far than Western-Western makes it taste a lot like its Assam or Yu Chi counterparts. I usually got 4 rounded cups Gong Fu and 3 Western, and it got fruiter and more aromatic in the later steeps, but it was malty, woodsy, and floral in steep one. The later steeps have not changed that much.
I think I’m missing something about this tea. So far, it’s really just tasted like other Taiwanese blacks, but I’m a spoiled brat for what I get and chose. I could taste some of its oolong origins in its texture, but it reminded me of a Taiwanese Assam or a Ceylon. This one was a very tea tasting tea. I’m glad that I tried it, yet I’m going to hold off on the rating. I’m being too picky right now.
This has been a lunch time brew several days per week for the past few weeks. At first, I didn’t like it but it’s grown on me. Today was a particularly good cup. There’s a heaviness to the tea that took me a while to appreciate and put a taste to. I think it’s lima beans. I like to brew this with a lot of leaf and for about 5 minutes to make a richer, honey-like brew with mellow notes of apricot, nectarine, orange zest and orange blossom to kind of overplay the beany-vegetal quality. Second, longer steep is equal in flavor and body. Sometimes I notice bitterness in this tea, other times not. Chili pepper spiciness, minty cooling.
I’m still undecided on where I sit with this one. Don’t have much experience with first flush darjeeling.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Beany, Bitter, Cream, Fruity, Heavy, Honey, Lima Beans, Mineral, Olives, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Pepper, Spearmint, Spicy, Stonefruits, Vegetal
I think Derk/White Antlers may have given me a sample of this tea, but I also bought a bag of the 2018 harvest, which is what I’m drinking. I steeped 4 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 5 and 8 minutes.
The dry aroma is of hay, chocolate, roses, and stonefruit. The aroma from the cup was so enticing that I sipped this while it was still really hot and now have a slightly burned tongue. The dark chocolate is very prominent, followed, in order of detection, by peach, apricot, nectarine, honey, tangy dried fruit, citrus, rose, cannabis, herbs, wood, smoke, orange blossom, hay, malt, minerals, tannin, cream, and roasted almond. As it cools, the muscatel, stonefruit, and citrus notes become more apparent in the tea and in the aftertaste. I also see how people are getting cherry from this. The second steep is almost as good, featuring fewer of the fruit and chocolate notes and more of the malt/tannins/hay. I get autumn leaves and more astringency.
I was blown away by this tea as soon as I tried it, burned tongue notwithstanding. I immediately tried to find it on the website, only to learn it was out of stock. This is one of the best Nepalese teas I’ve had and one of the highlights of 2020.
Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Cannabis, Cherry, Chocolate, Citrus, Cream, Dark Chocolate, Dried Fruit, Floral, Hay, Herbaceous, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Orange Blossom, Peach, Rose, Smoke, Stonefruits, Tangy, Tannin, Wood
Brewing leaves aroma notes: savoury, stewing vegetables
Brewed leaves aroma notes: smokey, campfire, milk chocolate, fig
Brewed tea aroma notes: barley, malt, caramel, raisin
Brewed tea notes: strong flavour of milk chocolate
Flavors: Campfire, Caramel, Chocolate, Raisins
I’ve downed this one and only have 5 grams left. This one has changed a little bit, and I’ve enjoyed it because I feel like I don’t run out of things to write, think, or say.
Yesterday, I got rose and peanuts; the day before, I got grains with the honey, yams, and florals like oats and bread; today, I got honeysuckle, sweet potatoes, light malt, cocoa, and peony. Some of the tips are silver, and looking back at these notes, the notes and parts of the tea resemble a white tea.
In essence, this is a black tea for white tea lovers. It’s not as strong as some of its other Fujian counterparts and is a very light, soft tea, but it’s been a much welcome staple while I wait for more bud based blacks coming my selfish way. The main heathered honey is still prominent with a very floral body with reliable Fujian flavors, but it’s hints are fun and pull back and forth.
This one scores between an 85 and 90 for me since I kept coming back to it. It’s not a heavy tea and is more suited for the afternoon of evening for me, but I like my black teas light and flavorful. I recommend this one to people who are familiar with Fujian teas and who prefer white teas and less heavy blacks.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Grain, Honey, Honeysuckle, Malt, Peanut, Rose, Squash Blossom
This is an interesting one. I will be honest-I miss the days of the 10 gram sample to increase the variety of what I try, but this is one of those teas that was perfect at 25 grams for me. I could have read too much into the notes for this one, but the floral combo was really interesting, and there were some parts of the session where it tasted different, but the basic honey floral flavor was still there.
The mix of color is interesting-it is wiry, black, and gilded with faint gold tips, but it’s mixed with silver ones, too, like a white tea.
The dry leaf is fairly floral-and it kind of reminds me of a jasmine black, but it’s not too strong. It still smells like a chocolaty and yammy Fujian tea.
This is not a strong tea, and more on the lighter end like other Fujians and even the recent Tie Guan Yin type blacks I’ve had, but it still has a yammy malt distinctly like other Fujian teas. The difference comes with the florals and the honey notes. The honey comes off more to me as heathered, dark honey with some texture. The honey note also reminded me of other fructose based things like apricots in steep 2, citrus in 3, and peaches in four.
I’ve had a harder time pinning down the florals.They tend to remind me of jasmine more strongly, but also reminded me of chrysanthemum in a very light way. Later steeps brought lilac (HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I USED THAT SAME
DAMN NOTE), but I’ve drank this with my Evening Lilac from Renegade Tea in comparison, and they are pretty close, only this one is more citrusy and honey based-that one is more floral.
Heathered honey remains the most dominant flavor amidst nearly heavy florals with the chocolaty/yammy malt ones in the middle brews. The honey reminds me of some darker and more sundried white teas, and the chocolate notes faded after brew 5 for me in a session of 7 steeps after a random amount of seconds and minutes that I paid no head to. The teas body, however, is very light to medium and not thick while. Viscous, but not heavy. The later steeps also brought in some healthy but small tannin hints that were nice, but the tea was still chocolaty and honey sweet.
Overall, I’m a big fan. I’m curious to see what other people think of it. This tea personally stood out to me because it combines the trademarks of a Fujian Black in my head and brings out the floral qualities. There were moments were it tasted a lot like the Jasmine black that I ordered in that other teas later steeps.
I’m not quite sure what I’d rate it yet. It’s struck me as more of a late afternoon tea for a medium re-center or recharge over a breakfast tea, but I definitely kept coming back to it last night. I also wish I got some Jin Jun Mei and Golden Needle Black in my last order. I figured-I have too much Hon Cha, but I’ve really been craving it lately.
Really, my tastes are slowly reverting back to older ones. I still love my oolongs, but I’ve been drinking a lot more of my Chinese What-Cha blacks and the Hugo Jasmine Green a lot more lately. I tend to in the winter anyway and do still drink my oolongs, but I’ve brewed them for less steeps. Some of my greener ones I swear have gotten spinagier in time, although I always drink them within a year.
Taste preference aside, I really liked this one and will continue to enjoy it for this bizarre year and season.
Flavors: Apricot, Chocolate, Citrus, Floral, Honey, Malt, Peach, Smooth, Tannic, Tea, Toffee, Yams
What a lovely tea! It is delicate, smooth and comforting, while possessing a powerful bag of aromas and a long-lasting aftertaste. In short, it is like a FF Darjeeling with more fruity and umami notes and less astringency.
The main aromas I found were those of fruit tree flowers, honey, and vanilla. The taste starts off tart with lots of high floral notes and a cooling mouthfeel. Flavours of cantaloupe, citrus skin, and butter are among those that show up in the first infusion. Second steep then has more bite, a mildly grassy note and interesting olive oil / focaccia flavours. The umami flavours unravel even more subsequently, with the third infusion tasting of roast beef and thyme. The aftertaste is very flowery and protracted. There are also some yeasty notes such as those of kombucha and bread.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Cantaloupe, Citrus Zest, Floral, Flowers, Fruit Tree Flowers, Fruity, Grass, Honey, Meat, Olive Oil, Straw, Tart, Thyme, Umami, Vanilla, Yeast
Day 15 of Sara’s Old Tea!
I did a quick wash, then steeped this one for 4 minutes for the first steep, 4.5 for the second. It opened up a good deal for the first, and even more for the second.
It tastes of raisins and honey and malt and happiness and kitten snuggles. I’m going to steep this until no more delicious flavor comes out of it. Mmm.
Flavors: Honey, Malt, Raisins
My morning cuppa. Another of my 2017 teas that I’m working through, in a still-sealed 10g package. I usually brew 3.5g to 500ml but dropped it to 3.3g to try to more evenly split the leaf into three 500ml western brew servings. Steeped for three minutes in 205F water.
The brewed tea has that lovely coppery reddish-brown color of a nice black tea. The aroma coming from my cup as I wait for it to cool enough to drink is giving me notes of cocoa, wet wood, roasted nuts, cinnamon, and honey.
The flavor is very breakfast tea malty/bready, with that orange citrus/smoky savory note I often get from Chinese black teas. I’m picking up a little of the wood, nuts, and a dark bittersweet cocoa toward the end of the sip, but the sweeter notes that were coming out on the nose aren’t present in the brewed cup. There is a bit of astrigency after the sip, but overall it’s surprisingly smooth for how strong and robust the tea is coming off.
An ideal breakfast tea; it has a hardiness to it, but is still smooth enough to drink unadorned (which is how I like to drink my breakfast teas).
Flavors: Astringent, Baked Bread, Citrus, Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Malt, Orange, Roasted nuts, Smoke, Smooth, Thick, Wood