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Recent Tasting Notes
Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve had a raw pu-erh. I meant to do a bunch of gongfu steeps and dump them all in a big travel mug (Fellow Carter Move, love travel mugs with the ceramic lining!), but sniff and taste each steep before it went into the mug so it still felt like gongfu and I could see the differences between steeps and stuff. The big mug of tea was so I could have something hot and tasty to drink while working on a baby blanket for my on-the-way niece (? I only have a two-year-old’s word that it’s a girl). The steeping went according to plan and tea made it into the mug but then I fell asleep. I don’t know what it is about raw pu-erh that makes me sleepier than most other teas. The few sips from tasting each steep and drinking the last bit of a steep that wouldn’t quite fit in my mug knocked me out. It was pretty late at that point, but still. Luckily, the Fellow mug is more like a thermos than a regular travel mug and my tea was still hot and enjoyable today.
Dry leaf kinda just smelled like raw pu-erh to me. Like slightly spicy hay or something. I love that they double wrapped the cake even though it’s a tiny one. I think all tea cakes should be double wrapped or at least wrapped with the thicker type of paper. I’m always worried about destroying the wrapper way before the tea is gone when I get a huge cake wrapped in one layer of that thin tissue paper type paper. I also appreciated that this cake wasn’t super tightly pressed so I was able to gently pick out leaves with my nails instead of hunting down my tea pick. Did I measure my leaf? Probably should have, but no. I think I was on the lighter side leaf-wise but I’m a bit out of practice and this was my first time with this tea. Brewed tea has the sort of spice aroma and flavor that can be hit or miss with me. I can never pinpoint exactly what kind of spice(s), there’s just something that seems spice-like to me. Maybe a teeny bit of citrus. Bitterness comes out more as it cools. Empty cup smelled exactly like honey, which was kind of weird. Aftertaste is sort of lemon honey. This needs a proper gongfu session but I suspect this is one that will not play nice with my stomach with more leaf.
Sipdown! (8 | 282)
So I’ve had two of these minis in a little zipper bag for forever, and I figured it was time to sip them down. Generally I would steep a tea like this grandpa-style, but I haven’t been feeling that lately so I just used half of a coin for each 16-ounce western-style pot, and broke up the chunk a bit so it would have time to unfurl. Sacrilege probably, but oh well.
It’s definitely a daily drinker sort of tea for me. Very smooth with sweet woody notes and bits of malty bread and sweet potato. A touch of honeyed sweetness. The texture is silky and creamy, reminding me of creamed honey with a hint of wildflower nectar. I taste some sweet dried fruit at the end, somewhere between golden raisin and apricot, and leaning more stonefruit-esque as time goes on.
A nice tea, but I’m not sure I need to order it, as it doesn’t really stand out to me. Plus since I generally only steep western-style, compressed tea doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to buy.
Flavors: Apricot, Bread, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Floral, Hay, Honey, Malt, Nectar, Raisins, Smooth, Stonefruit, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Thick, Woody
I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about oolong. I thought I didn’t like it but it’s looking like maybe I just don’t like it steeped western style. Every western style cup of oolong I’ve had has been disappointingly weak and boring, even the ones where the dry leaf smelled amazing. My opinion of oolongs has greatly improved since I started gongfu-ing them but there have still been several that are just okay and I haven’t tried a huge variety of oolongs yet. I really liked Yunnan Sourcing’s aged Da Hong Pao so I was excited about White2Tea’s February subscription box featuring yanchas…and then my box got lost in the mail and the replacement didn’t arrive until late summer. I’ve tried a few of the teas from the yancha box and been kind of meh about them. They’re not bad, they’re perfectly drinkable, they just haven’t wowed me. I like this one, though.
I brewed and drank through most of my session with it without reading White2Tea’s description. The dry leaf smelled almost chocolatey to me. Maybe more like the kind of chocolate flavoring sometimes added to teas than actual chocolate. The brewed tea had a lovely floral scent. Not really sure what kind of floral. Kinda darker and heavier than the clover blossom floral I get from the green teas I like. There’s another flavor that I think must be that rocky mineral flavor people talk about. It’s somehow familiar…but not? I don’t spend a lot of time licking rocks but I can maybe see how that description would fit. Maybe a little metallic? I don’t know. Kiiiiinnda reminds me of the well water we had in the place I grew up (no idea what the mineral content of that was but it was definitely different from what we’ve got in our current house…the water here smells like a dirty fish tank and leaves rust colored scum on everything). Metallic rock water SOUNDS gross but it’s kinda working for me. The wet leaf does not smell appealing to me at all. Weird how I can like the smell of the dry leaf, the brewed tea and the empty cup but hate the smell of the wet leaf. Looking at the tea’s description afterward…wood, red fruit, honey. Hmm. MAYBE I get some honey sweetness with the florals and a hint of fruity tang in that sort of metallic-ness?
I’m glad this tea seems to be part of White2Tea’s regular offerings and not a special production for their subscription club. I’d consider getting a bag next time I order. There’s always a struggle figuring out what to reorder while leaving plenty of room for new things and staying within budget.
A decent ripe! I got this tea from a w2t order a few months back, and I enjoyed the session quite a bit! Relatively consistently plucked small leaves with a decent wet leaf aroma and a vibrant liquor. This tea was smooth, thick yet juicy with a bit of character and body to it. This tea had a decent finish and a semi-decent cha-qi. The steep longevity and the aftertaste was relatively average along with the nuance when it came to the flavour and taste. The overall flavour was nice but lacked any distinctness from other ripes I’ve tasted. Generally, a good tea that wasn’t the cleanest but nothing too bad.
Flavors: Creamy, Forest Floor, Fruity, Juicy, Leather, Malt, Mushrooms, Musty, Plum, Stonefruit, Thick
Man I hate having a student budget because I would buy more of this right now.
I did two rinses and have been brewing at boiling, this tea has lasted me quite a few steeping and I’m certain I can get more out of it. It started with an almost hidden sweetness and slowly has let more and more of its toasty roasted notes out. It makes me really nostalgic for my mom’s chai and breakfast for some reason and certainly is a tea that makes me want to slow down and really savor each brew.
I’m fairly new to tea, coming from a daily espresso and maybe a pour over, so my reference points are limited. But if I were to try and compare it to something it reminds me a lot of the scent and mouth drying nature of a rock oolong I had at Hugo Tea in Chicago. But with a more pronounced sear to it and the gentle sweetness that keeps popping in and out. Clearly I have a lot more to experience in the tea game because this was really fun and unique.
Flavors: Honey, Roasty, Smoked
a light sweetness and a strange numbing sensation on the tip of my tongue, probably the most inoffensive and easy drinking teas for literally anyone. The sweetness hangs out for a while and even at higher brew temps or longer brew times I didn’t get any weird notes to come at me. I need to sit down with this one again to see if it’s got any other hidden surprises.
Flavors: Candy, Honey
A rich, chocolatey, earthy tea, great for this first week of fall, reminds me of the scent of those rubber mulch wood chips that schools use for their playgrounds. I wasn’t wow’d by this tea but I certainly could see it being an easy daily drinker during the winter.
Flavors: Camphor, Chocolate, Tar
A free sample that wandered its way into my order, Steeped at boiling after 2 washes, I almost didn’t smell anything in the Gaiwan after my two washes but in the cup a mild floral note was quite prevalent. The sweetness just wouldn’t give up, I was so impressed with how long it hung out. A slight hay? note or something that reminds me of a field came out starting on the second infusion. Astringency began to creep in during later infusions but wasn’t too off-putting. Although some sort of floral scent and the honey like sweetness were 90% of the notes I was getting, I was still pretty excited by this tea.
Flavors: Astringent, Floral, Hay, Honey
This was another sipdown of mine from late last year. I ended up receiving a free sample of this tea with an order from teaware.house. I had no real information on it at the time and still am not certain whether this tea was a 2018 or 2019 production. I found it to be an odd tea with tremendously intense character, though it did not strike me as being unappealing.
As I only had a 5g sample pouch of this tea with which to work, I opted to prepare it gongfu style. After a 10 second rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in 3 fluid ounces of 203 F water for 6 seconds. This infusion was followed by 18 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 9 seconds, 12 seconds, 16 seconds, 20 seconds, 25 seconds, 30 seconds, 40 seconds, 50 seconds, 1 minutes, 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 pomegranate, red wine, blackberry, plum, and black raspberry. After the rinse, new aromas of orchid, candied pomelo, cream, butter, and honeysuckle emerged along with a subtle spinach scent. The first proper infusion added additional aromas of bread and vanilla. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of pomegranate, butter, red wine, sour cherry, blackberry, orchid, and cream that were balanced by hints of bread, black raspberry, black currant, fig, and candied pomelo. The majority of the subsequent infusions introduced aromas of violet, peach, sour cherry, and sugarcane in addition to a much stronger candied pomelo fragrance. More dominant notes of bread and candied pomelo emerged alongside impressions of violet, almond, grass, minerals, earth, sugarcane, plum, and nectarine. Hints of honeysuckle, apple, peach, spinach, and vanilla were also present. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to emphasize notes of minerals, grass, sour cherry, pomegranate, nectarine, butter, and orchid in addition to a stronger peach-like presence. Fleeting hints of almond, plum, spinach, cream, blackberry, bread, candied pomelo, red wine, and sugarcane continued to be detectable in the background.
I don’t normally write extensive concluding notes for teas I review, but I did for this one. The tea had a boozy presence in the mouth and packed a huge caffeine wallop. The energy it provided was almost overpowering at times. The texture of the tea liquor was typically thin and slippery, but it had a habit of shifting unpredictably, creating something of a chaotic presence that kept me on my toes through the entirety of the drinking session. While I respected this tea’s complexity, vigor, and durability, it offered a lot to process. I doubt it would be suitable for beginners or casual drinkers.
Flavors: Almond, Apple, Black Currant, Black Raspberry, Blackberry, Bread, Butter, Candy, Cherry, Citrus, Cream, Earth, Fig, Grass, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Nectarine, Orchid, Peach, Plum, Pomegranate, Red Wine, Spinach, Sugarcane, Vanilla, Violet
I’ve never really seen compressed heicha like this before, so of course I had to try it. The little mini is so cute; much smaller and more compact than an average dragonball and with a more perfectly smooth and marble like shape!! Steeped grandpa style, the taste is less dark than expected and almost syrupy in mouthfeel with notes of wet grass, dark chocolate covered nuts of some kind, and pipe tobacco – but all tinged with a golden syrup sweetness. Sweet tobacco is a little strange to my palate in the way its presented here, but not in an offensive way – just one of those flavours that makes you stop and think. A lot.
Tea Photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CiLFdpwu4zd/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WK1sx0VL54w
What an interesting tea. I’ve already learned that there are two types of Lapsang. Smoked and Unsmoked. This appears to be unsmoked. The aroma of the wet leaf shows hints of fruit here and there but mostly wood notes. Dark panels in an expensive house. Based on other people’s reviews I may have let this one sit too long. It was hiding. The twist chocolate-looking leaf is still gorgeous though. And the amber/rose gold color of the water is quite a site. But I am not finding all the fruit notes everyone else seems to be finding. Slight dark cherry and dark cherry wood. Maybe a hint of pomegranate but also resin and interestingly no astringency. Even though I’ve been steeping it for at least five minutes now. There’s also a bit of a milk texture and flavor to it.
A meh Fuzhuan tea. I got this tea from my w2t order, and it is just about mediocre, maybe slightly better than mediocre. Beautiful leaves with a good amount of golden flowers paired with an interesting juicy finish, strong and potent wet leaf aroma and a slight cha-qi. This tea lacks in the strength and complexity of flavour, character, texture and longevity. There wasn’t anything downright bad about this tea, but nothing much stands out either.
Flavors: Cardboard, Cinnamon, Forest Floor, Juicy, Leather, Mineral, Mushrooms, Ocean Air, Spices, Spring Water
This session started off mellow and understated, but I’m finding there’s a slow build to this tea that works well with its very coating and almost film-like liquor. Mostly I’m getting florals, but with a bitter herbaceous undertone and some woodiness as well. It’s not quite hitting the spot today, as fascinating as the slow climb of this profile may have been – though the now warm body feeling in my chest is very pleasant and leaving me with a floaty feeling that I can’t help but enjoy. I would interested to see how this might hit in the future on a day where I have a drastically different mood…
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/ChfTRF0OQte/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oe6JPHZ8us0
A clean shou! I got this sample from my recent w2t order, and this tea really is an easy drinker. Beautiful leaves and liquor with a nice, complex aroma. Smooth and clean texture with a longevity that makes this tea last 15-20+ steeps. The flavour is clean and decent, but lacks complexity and nuance. This tea needs some work in the finish & aftertaste department, as well as the cha-qi department too. Overall, a really solid daily drinker especially at that price. A worth it tea.
Flavors: Cardboard, Cinnamon, Citrus Zest, Forest Floor, Musty, Plum, Smoked, Smooth, Wet Wood
An interesting tea with a unique character! I got this sample from my recent w2t order, and it is definitely the first time drinking a black and white tea blend, let alone pressed into a cake. Incredibly unique and complex aroma with a beautiful liquor, potent flavour and a decent aftertaste to boot. This tea lacks in a bit of nuance and complexity when it comes to flavour, any real form of cha-qi, and the texture could’ve been better. While it is an interesting tea, I wouldn’t say that this tea is something I’d buy again, or something I’d stock up if I had a tea shop. Really decent and unique, but it falls short just by a bit. Still, it’s definitely something I can recommend for people to try.
Flavors: Acidic, Brandy, Citrus Zest, Floral, Hay, Malt, Plum, Spices, Sweet Potatoes
A nice white tea! I got this sample from my recent w2t order, and its delicateness and smoothness really stands out. Moderately rich aroma, smooth texture, and a buzzy cha-qi to boot. I wish that this tea had a stronger flavour with more nuance, and that it should have a longer lasting finish and aftertaste for this tea to really be a contender for a really good tea. I just felt that it wasn’t unique and complex enough. All in all though, a decent white!
Flavors: Alcohol, Creamy, Floral, Hay, Marshmallow, Smooth, Whipped Cream, White Wine
I’m not sure what to make of this tea. I got this sample from my recent w2t order, and so many things were wrong with this tea. First of all, the sample came in a damaged and torn mylar package, and secondly, the tea was quite stale and flavourless. Maybe it could be due to the tear in the packet, but I’m not sure. Little flavour with a slight floral and herbaceous note, thin texture and mouthfeel, and only a little chaqi. The aroma honestly smelled like fresh vomit, which was quite off putting. The only thing going for this tea is the nice astringent finish that coats the mouth at the end, and a decent cake that was easy to break up. Would not recommend, and I’m frankly skeptical about the whole mylar packaging situation as well, but I’ll let it slide with -10 points.
Flavors: Apple, Floral, Herbaceous
I don’t really understand the high score for this tea. I bought a sample from my recent w2t order, and I was simply not impressed. Weak flavour and thin complexity, with weak texture and chaqi. There really isn’t anything to shout for this tea, maybe other than a decent aroma. It’s treading the border between plain mediocre and not so good tea. Not recommended.
Flavors: Cherry, Herbaceous, Honey, Leather, Sandalwood, Smoke, Tobacco
A unique Dancong! I got this tea from my recent w2t order, and I have to say that the aftertaste, huigan, the finish, is super strong! This tea brings a potent chaqi to it and it also just brings a whole other dimension to the world of dancongs. This tea however lacks in strength of flavour, complexity, and aroma. If the taste and aroma was stronger and more complex, instead of being practically one-dimensional, this tea could very well be highly recommended. Yes, it is a good tea, but I’m not sure if it is worth the price. Still recommended, though.
Flavors: Alcohol, Cherry, Leather, Mineral, Salty, Soap
Early morning tea session with some Red Milan and two perfectly ripe red plums! This is already an incredibly sweet and aromatic black tea with a lot of very syrupy notes of waxy red fruits, pomegranate molasses, dark honeys, and leather w/ undertones of exotic woods, malt, and bitter chocolate. However, the extra sweetness from these juicy melt in your mouth plums is really pushing the session over the edge and making the mouth watering sweetness of all the different fruit flavours such a commanding flavour! It almost feels too decadent for a breakfast tea session. Almost.
Tea Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cg9fwLcOffr/
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMaVeA7Tpww
Very unique shou! I got this mini cake from my w2t order, and it was quite an interesting experience. Strong citrus rind taste and finish at the start that moves on to a very very clean shou taste. Texture and chaqi is quite nice as well. If the tea had a stronger aroma and a more complex taste, it would be a tea that I would highly recommend. However, this tea just falls short.
Flavors: Bitter, Citrus Zest, Dark Wood, Forest Floor, Medicinal, Orange Zest, Raisins, Smoke
A pleasant mini pu-erh experience! I got this tea from my w2t order and I got to say it is pretty decent! Strong taste and huigan, very long and nice finish and aftertaste. The tea is on the bitter side but that is what I like. The chaqi was semi-potent on this one, but the aroma, character, and longevity of this tea was lacking. It could make a great tea with some age.
Flavors: Bitter, Black Currant, Brown Sugar, Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Mint, Passion Fruit, Raisins, Vanilla