1498 Tasting Notes
A few failed attempts with this one. The site describes it as being more of a dessert like tea, noting cocoa nibs, caramel, strawberry, but I’ve only gotten the cocoa nibs with bitterness, tannin, and astringency. I’ve done it western like they recommend using 5g | 340ml water | 205° | 2:30, and 4 grams tumbler style, and it’s too much. I felt like I was drinking a Keemum or a Ceylon-essentially, English Breakfast, so looks like I gotta play with it to see what they are talking about. Maybe it’s just a more bitter tea than I was expecting?
Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Cocoa, Drying, Malt, Tannin
I’ve stared at this tea online for nearly a year and finally gave in. Qilans are my favorite Wuyi Oolongs, and I could only imagine what the varietal is like as a black tea.I am going to be writing a quicky backlog, so this will not be as descriptive as normal. I have only tested western so far, so I only got about 3-4 cups. I expected the tea to be similar to the floral Georgian Evening Lilac Tea I have from Renegade, and I was right. That tea is more floral leaning into a weird jasmine and savory body, whereas this one is sweeter. Hyacinth and squash are definitely there, the toasted buckwheat is in steep two for me, and I personally get brown sugar in the sweeter notes western. No bitterness or astringency, and it’s really soothing. It loses it’s touch in steep 3, being floral and malty with some light roast.
I am looking forward to the fact I have 50 grams of it, and this is one of the teas I do not feel like I overpaid for or let down by. Hopefully, I will remember to write about this one again. It’s got my mark of tea nerd approval. I don’t know who’d be a fan-it’s a lighter sweet black tea that is not too forward, but it doesn’t lack body. We will see if I get more florid in the future.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Floral, Roasty, Smooth, Squash, Sweet, Wheat
I had a hard time putting the picture on for this one, but here it is. Getting some major hocus pocus vibes from the title, nevermind the song is classic. I’ve had a few coconut chai’s before that are usually green or try to lean more into the Thai direction, and this one does an awesome job of balancing everything out. The coconut flavor is prominent, but not fake as it transitions into the sweeter lemongrass and ginger, ending with cardamom and some light malt in the finish. Despite being a black tea, it’s not as full bodied as I expected. Astringency manages to pull in, but not a whole lot of it or bitterness from the tea-I get more bitter spice from the cardamom. I added some coconut milk and sugar for my brother and his with a splash of cream to add some fat, and it was smooth. Again, not super heavy, but sweet, nutty, and spicy.
Not rating it yet, though I’m a fan. I just wish I could have grabbed some of the French Toast Busters too!
Flavors: Astringent, Coconut, Creamy, Ginger, Lemongrass, Nutty, Smooth, Spices, Sweet
Almost got Honeysuckle My Kiss, then decided to sample this instead because Roswell rated it an 89. Smell from the bag is incredible, and while I haven’t had a full cup of it on my own yet, my mom got some and was extremely pleased. I only added some cane sugar to hers and she had three cups of it again and again. It got weak after steep 3, but the oolong was still nice. I was surprised I liked this one a little bit more than Blood Jasmine Shed, and I will write more about it when I can play gong fu and other styles with it.
This one was a pretty cool combo. I would not think to combine jasmine and strawberry, and the cup I got was a very sweet one. It reminded me of the high priced Taiwanese and Tong Mu Chinese blacks I get in some ways. This tea was a little bit astringent for me at first western after three minutes, then I brewed it again for 30, and liked it all the better. I think the blackberry helps transition between the strawberry and the jasmine. I’m not ready to rate it, but I’m really glad I got a sample of it.
No. 648 Red Jade Ruby 2020
I’m trying this out for last to see how it goes, and I’m doing it without reading the notes. I’ve already got the eucalyptus, malt and menthol expectations up as I try it out, and I hope it’s not as astringent as other Red Jades I’ve had.
I went 5 grams 150 ml, 15, 30, 45, 65 and stopped.
The earlier notes I mentioned were there as expected, and this one was considerably smoother to drink. Each brew had a bright ruby red color, and lots to offer in the aroma in terms of mint, eucalyptus, sage, and malt. The flavors are much the same, but steep three gave me a little bit of cherry hint, and every steep was sweeter than normal, as if it had simple syrup added. Overall, the effect reminded me of cough syrup or sweetened cough medicine, but I didn’t have a major headache afterwards. I’d give it a 75-80 rating. I could also see other people giving it a much higher rating.
While I’m still not someone who likes the Red Jade varietal in blacks and whites as much now, I appreciated and enjoyed the tea because it was smoother than others I’ve had prior. This last note solidifies how well rounded the sampler is to give people an idea of what Taiwan teas are like. I preferred some over others and wish there might have been at least a Assam or Qin Xin Black, yet this is a good gift box for someone learning about or adoring of Taiwanese teas. Again, I deeply recommend Zhao Zhou.
Backlog/continued from yesterday:
No. 218 Formosa White Jade 2021
5 oz, 10 sec beginning, 10 sec increments, 185 roughly in temperature.
Dark leaves, nearly black with some green thrown in. Sage/eucalyptus like aroma, and trying it out, liquor is a darker orange or light brown. The Red Jade cultivar aroma of cinnamon, fruit, and balmy herbs lingers. The note “Steamed aroma: Summer dried wildflowers and herbs, spicy apple compote, nutmeg and taste of subtle flowers, chamomile, jasmine, tiger balm, sweet spices.Energizes gently.” The taste is extremely sweet and syrupy like ripe fruit, like apple compote. It’s brown like apple compote. Dense, full body every steep highlighted by jasmine green tea like florals like they said, and a healthy dose of eucalyptus/sage/mint/camphor/balm-again, typical red jade stuff. AAAAAaaaand, I could not manage past steep four. Too much for me. I think I can conclude that no matter how high quality and exceptional the tea, I still have a hard time with this varietal.
So, I gave myself a break by going into the green tea.
No. 341 Taiwan Primeur Green 2021
15 beginning, 10 sec increments, other parameters the same.
Again, I’ll borrow their description:
“steamed scent: chestnuts, baked buns, spinach, toasted fish skin, edamame beans
at 85 degrees: the scent of water chestnut, peach, lotus seed, Gingko Biloba, and the typical Maofeng greenish fresh scent, the aftertaste is long and pleasantly green, with typical notes of Qing Xin.”
Tasting notes hit me. Very peachy and forward with the water chestnut, and insanely green and fresh, easy to drink. I could get to steep 5 really easily, and then it was too green. Very creamy. I see the Gingko Biloba in the kind of green notes it has.
That’s all I have for now. I like the green a little bit more. Highly recommend this sampler and any teatasting from Zhao Zhou. I will say it is also re-affirming my biases for oolong and qin xin blacks. Typical.
I used my last sampler, and I still wasn’t satisfied. I used cold water, mixed it into a paste, put it in a double wall tumbler with hot water, shook it, and poured the drink into a small cup. The tea wasn’t nearly as clumpy and better mixed, but was still grassy and bitter. It had the trademark Lishan creaminess, orchid, plumeria, and even buttery bread complexities, but they were undercut by the bitterness.I’m not sure if I used too much matcha. I used a single serve sample for 14 oz, which should allow for more diffusion of the powder. Maybe I’m a clutz, but I have not had this kind of issue with regular matcha. I may just have to try this matcha again in the future, but right now, I’m not sure I’d recommend it without some practice. If you do ever decide to get one, make sure your matcha skills are on point or use a filter, maybe a smaller amount? I could just be unrefined because I do not drink matcha as much as I used to. I am still impressed with its complexity and that Red Blossom is doing something original, but the price and bitterness are deal breakers for me personally. I’m also not going to rate it because I do not think I’d be the best judge, unless someone has had the same experience.
Flavors: Bitter, Bread, Butter, Cream, Dirt, Floral, Grass
I was stoked about this one. I haven’t had a first flush in close to a year, let alone Jun Chiyabari. I only had 5 grams of it, and I divided it up in 3 oz for some small cold brewing, and 2 grams for semi-gong fu and western.
I have only started it recently, not letting it exceed 30 seconds. It’s got some green woody bitterness and some typical first flush peppery astringency. You can read their notes too get an accurate idea of what you will have. It’s pretty green to me, bordering on being olive like with a bit of hoppy and citrusy zest. Woodsy camphor and balmy menthol definitely in there too. Tiger Balm was always citrusy for me anyway, so I’m not surprised. I actually didn’t camphor was a tree, and an oil used in balm, so it was cool to learn that. Every time I journey into more obscure teas, the more flower language and modicums of herbology I come across.
I’m still not finished with the tea yet, going through 1.5 minutes second time, and it’s more citrusy and blamy. Still twiggy.
I’ll have to write another note to see how far I get. I usually stop early with first flushes because of their astringency, but this one has very oolong like, so we’ll see.
… next morning, and the leaves smell too bitter and astringent for me. I disposed of those, and then retrieved my cold brew from the fridge. So much smoother. Citrus, orange, creamy, floral, refreshing and juicy in layers. Sip starts out honeysuckle, then light orange blossom, full on citrus, light spice, and creamy, juicy finish. Tasted like orange or lemon water. Yeah, this one was significantly better cold brew for me.
Overall rating is above an 80. High quality tea, and definitely for first flush lovers, though cold brew is the easy way to go. Despite drinking tea for over 20 years, I still like the more flavor forward teas. I’m so thankful to get to try this sample. I cannot recommend Zhao Zhou enough.
Flavors: Astringent, Bell Pepper, Bitter, Camphor, Citrus, Green Wood, Herbs, Hops, Olives, Pepper