1313 Tasting Notes
So, this is going to be the beginning of a really long backlog. Over the summer last year, I was freaked out about ordering teas from overseas due to shipping limits and the pandemic, so I reached out to a friend living in the same area as this coffee shop. She said there was a bunch of teahouses near where she lived, so I planned out stops of a visit and stumbled upon this one. It’s a coffee/teahouse/bar/bookstore in one. It was after my own heart. She didn’t hear about it, and she started going. I also splurged a lot on this place because of their selection, and I wanted to support this kind of business.
This was from my second mega order of black teas, and I wanted to put something down before it was removed from the site. I don’t have more to add than what was written, but this is a very hearty Assam, even gong fu. Thick with leather, tannin, and milk chocolate notes. Heavy and brisk too. I don’t have more to add than that right now, but it’s a breakfast style tea sure to please. I’m have tempted to send this one to you over, Whiteantlers because it seems like it would be up you alley. I’ll write more on this one in the future.
Onto the other notes!
Flavors: Astringent, Cherry, Chocolate, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Wood, Leather, Tannic, Tea, Toffee
Reviewing the shared Leafhopper batch is going to be fun. I had a hard time deciding which to try first. Mountain Stream teas tend to have a shorter shelf life, so I started here.
I unceremoniously put the entire sample in my jerry rigged Crimson Lotus Gongfu2Go tumbler. Dry leaf was buttery, with some of the cookie dessert vegetable notes I associate with most of Mountain Stream teas. I did not time it it, but I let it steep until the leaves partly opened. I snuck a peaky sip, maybe after 45 seconds (or a minute-I was bad), and the flower butter taste confirmed it was ready.
First steep was a light yellow brew with a deceptive amount of flavor. The notes were heavy with butter, milk, brown sugar, swiss chard, and cream followed by some of the trademark orange blossom note from the company (that I totally made up-I swear most of their teas have an orange blossom taste even if their black teas). If I were to drink it blind, I might have thought it was a milk oolong. I also got some weird linens texture wise.
Second steep is a little more vegetal and floral as the leaves were closer to being totally unfurled quickly. I’d assume a minute or less. More orange blossom and….osmanthus? It’s not quite “sprite” like, but it’s very creamy. I’m trying to think of the other florals this time. The tea still leans more into milk and brown sugar direction, but still lightly floral. The chard also grows, but less vanilla association than in steep one.
Wet leaves had broccoli and green bean scent, but still floral. Third brew…don’t ask me the timing. ’Nother sip-creamsicle. Let it sit longer…better. Again, having a hard time pinning it down. Very floral, definite hyacinth, honeysuckle, rising into a buttery and sweet finish. The lingering aftertaste is really nice. Again, kinda like a creamsicle. Joy to orange blossom.
Fourth, not sure what to do. I poured another sip. Sweet and flavorful, osmanthus. I got some peachiness from the leaves, before I rinsed it, but let’s see. I let it sit a few more seconds, and much the same leaning into the butter and swiss chard qualities. More seconds, and osmanthus and swiss chard. Again.
Few seconds later…and finally, full peach along vegetal notes. Spinach.
I’m going to pause writing here and confer the other notes real quick. I don’t have a lot of hot water left and am debating how many more steeps I want to push. To be continued in a few minutes.
Okay, I can now come to a conclusion. I still did another steep, and it’s milky. Orange blossom vegetable creamsicle.
So do I like it? Heck yes. Would I have bought it? In the past, yes, but when my preferences were younger. I’ve had older year packs before when the company started out. Mountain Stream has some very unique teas that are hard to find anywhere else, but they are experimental and very temperamental based on seasons. All teas are, but no tea is ever the same from this company.
Thank you Leafhopper! I finished this one with great joy.
Flavors: Broccoli, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Milk, Orange Blossom, Osmanthus, Peach, Smooth, Spinach, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal
Got this at the same time as the Wild Garden Shan Lin Xi.
This is a backlog, though in real time, I’m thinking about brewing some up. I actually had more mixed feelings about this one.
The notes are vivid, and like most of the teas I buy, it’s of the aromatic variety. Pears, magnolia, heavy honey, chrysanthemum, wood, sticks…it’s all there. The tea is so honey note heavy and sweet that it has some similarities to red oolongs and the Dong Feng Mei Ren that the company described. It bordered on malty, kinda like buckwheat honey. Tasty, and viscous, but heavy, even for me.
I’ve personally found that I go through moods with the honeyed styled teas, especially Dong Feng Mei Ren. I have to be in the mood for woodsy. I felt like I was sucking honey on a stick in spring with this one.
With all that said, it’s very good and highly recommend it to anyone, but I personally needed to lighten up to quicker medium 20-30 sec steeps gong fu. Western was a little too heavy and gave me a little more issues. I wish I added this one to Leafhoppers package. Darn.
I’m still figuring this one out. I like it and think it’s high quality, but I’m not sure who I’d recommend it to. It is pretty steep with the price. For now, it’s an enjoyed and new experience. I currently enjoy the wild garden version a lot more, but this one is good, and I still highly recommend Wang Family Tea.
Flavors: Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Mango, Pear, Sweet, Wet Wood
I’m having a hard time uploading pictures…oh well.
I’ve had a few teas, and I will say the last two weeks have been tough. We’re back on lockdown…again…in the two weeks after we went fully in person. 1/2 of our students had to self quarantine and then less showed up. A lot of them are afraid, tired, drained, lost, and feeling like their in a weird place. Others are trying to push forward and keep up the good pace they’ve been on. I won’t go into much more detail than that, but I needed a recharge this weekend before I go into work. Specifically, work tonight and for tomorrow morning. So I drank some of this tea today, and I’m beginning with a little mental success of completing my little expo over something I enjoy.
I decided to splurge on this and another sample since I had some saved up. It was $12 for 25 grams, and was not quite sure what to expect. The description is unusually short on the website, but vivid, focusing on the orchid profile, sweetness, and “distinct” fruitiness, implicating buddha fruit and passion fruit.
Going back to the tea, I would say tasting it blind, I’d think it was a Li Shan with how intensely fruity and aromatic it is. The orchids were prominent and the tea was sweet dry and wet; yet, the fruits pick up intensely in the second brew gong fu and the first steep western. Melon, gardenia and lightly cooked peaches personally came to mind, and it was extremely lush. I know I’ve used those notes for other High Mountain oolong teas, but it was dense and yielding. I got seven solid steeps in the gong fu, each fruity until steep eight. I did the 30 second measurement for that one, and about 5 grams for 5 oz. I could have gone heavier, but the aroma was perfect.
I can see the Buddha Fruit citrine comparison-it’s soft, sweet, vaguely citrusy, but not totally there. The passionfruit is a lot more dominant in steep 3-4 gong fu, and as it cools western.
I think that if I hadn’t have ShuiXian before, I think I might have mistaken this for a high end gaoshan. Again, not a bad thing at all-it’s more of a compliment piled on top of a compliment, but I personally got a deeper appreciation for it knowing what it is. I’ve had some varietals from localities that don’t always work for me, but this one worked well for me because it was flavor forward. I could taste a lot of similarities to the Zhangping pillows version of the Shui Xian in terms of the florals, especially the gardenia note I would get, but the heavy fruit notes, especially the peach, reminded me of the later steeps of the Wu Yi rock version. The light roast could be pushing forward the sweetness along with an oxidation of at least 25 or30% by my guess, but still.
Overall, I’m deeply impressed with this one. I would be on the border of splurging more on this one, but I recommend this for people who want to treat themselves for special occasion. My special occasion was the need for extravagant coping and sensory grounding, but I do think that this tea is approachable for new comers to oolong, but it’s price point is more for the experienced drinkers who are tea nerding.
It’s good for western or Gong Fu, but I personally prefer it gong fu…nevermind it was frickin awesome tumbler fuel with an extremely light amount of leaves. I’m probably going to add more to this in the future because I think it’s got more to offer.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Melon, Orchid, Passion Fruit, Peach, Savory, Sweet
Gotta be impressed with the wonders of the internet and its ability to connect people. I got a message from Logan, the marketing director, on instagram because he liked my reviews and wanted my input for this tea. I was kinda thrown off since I’m used to being relatively isolated on social media, but it was a happy surprise. I’ve been looking for a Qi Lan, and I really like Hugo Teas, so I was pretty ecstatic. Logan already upfronted some description of it being floral, woodsy, and fairly smooth. It was from Banyan material from his source, maybe wild, from the year 2018. So then I got 50 grams, and here’s my input.I personally am into this tea.
Yancha was something I’d be really into at the beginning of my tea journey since I was a black coffee drinker looking for some alternatives, but I moved away from darker oolongs to the more floral, namely Qi Lans and Dan Congs….nevermind I also moved away from Chinese TGYs.
Qi Lans are my favorite yanchas since they tend to be more on the floral side of higher oxidation and roasting, and they can have similarities to Dan Congs. I did semi-western gong fu, beginning with 45 seconds, and adding 10-30 second depending on color and aroma. Qilans also tend to have a mixed reaction from people depending on processing and roasting. Some like it dark, I tend to like it greener, or a balance of both. I also noticed you never get the same flavor for this kind of tea, and it heavily varies from season to season even from the same producer. This makes Qilans a little bit more niche in who drinks it.
This tea has ample floral aroma, heavy with almond, jasmine, bamboo, florals, and minerals. The first steep emphasized almond, but steeps 2-3 were heavy with jasmine and orchid. Steeps 4-5 became weirdly fruity and a little spicy, edging on sweet-tart strawberry, ginger, and plantain with its continued woodsy, mineraled, and floral profile. I’d be curious if I get the fruity notes again since I usually don’t get them from a Qi Lan. Overactive imagination messing with my palette, maybe? Logan mentioned maybe lavender and prune. I’m going to have to see what I get next time. Otherwise, immensely floral and sweet.
Later steeps were long, and had the jasmine, banana, and wood, but with a drying slightly bitter aftertaste kinda like dried bamboo and dirt. It was a little astringent, but not overly so. I stopped there.
I’m not sure how I’d market this one since it’s a lot softer than some other teas, but I think some people might be thrown off by the plaintain woodsiness. I do think that you were right, Logan that it could have used a hair more roast, but at the same time, this is pretty close to how I like my Qi Lans. I like being able to taste the florals, and the weird fruit notes appeal to my inner tea snob. As for other people’s preference, I’m not sure. My mom was into this one because it tastes like a jasmine tea in some ways, but she was not into it when I gave her a later brew since she thought it was too bitter. I also do not see Qi Lans be written about that often here. A good chunk of the Qi Lan notes are mine, my friends, recommended in our little circle, or from older bloggers and posters. I very rarely see Qi Lans even on blog sites, so I’m throwing out the question to you for fun, the audience in the digital ether:
What do you think about Qi Lans, and what kind of people would drink them?
I curiously wait for your reply. In the mean time, I’m going to experiment more with this one to see what I think.
Flavors: Almond, Bamboo, Bitter, Floral, Ginger, Jasmine, Mineral, Smooth, Strawberry, Sweet, Wood
Backlog from three days ago.
Purchased 30 grams only of this one since it was $14.99. Almost got 50. Glad I got 30, though I would buy it again.
Roswell’s note sold me on it. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was pleased with this one. It’s an Anxi varietal for sure. Gong fu or western, this one has the trademarked condensed milk and savory coconut milk viscous texture note of a gong fu, but some fruity notes later on bordering on peach, mango, or something else tropical. Sometimes, it reminded me of pear-not usual. Personally, orchid and extremely dense lilac notes are prominent in aroma and taste, with some vanilla. It’s also fairly woodsy and stemy. It can be vegetal if I brew it for longer, but when I go lighter Western or Gong Fu, it’s really not that vegetal for an oolong. It continues to rebrew 5 times from shorter western steeps, and 7 times from gong fu. It’s a little bit smoother western, a little bit woodsier gong fu. I might have to change some parameters.
I’ve had similar Jin Xuans before, specifically What-Cha’s Anxi and a few others. The particualr flavor profile of this is one resembles the Jin Xuan from The O Dor, but this one has more fruit in its accents whereas that one is more cakey.
I definitely like this one, but I am not entirely convinced this was not at least scented, or flavored. The lilac and the condensed milk aspects are too strong even in the dry leaf when you open the bag. It’s almost oily when I whiff off it from the opening seal. The fruity notes are kinda expected from the Anxi varietal, but the others are almost perfumey. Natural, but strong.
With that said, it’s a bit steep in price. It seems you cut most of the costs from West China Tea through it’s loyalty program. The 6-7 business day shipping policy also kinda bugs me. I usually don’t have an issue if it takes long and letting people actually be human beings that have lives, but I was kinda perturbed considering the cost with shipping. Despite this minor complaint, I was satisfied with the tea, and I also hope the company is doing alright with the winter storm power outages from the last few weeks.
Overall, I would recommend this tea for others and get it again. It’s got all the flavors I look for in my oolong, and it is pretty darn close in rank to the Mandala one personally. I also like some of the unique profiles I get from the lilacs and the interesting fruit notes that pop up. There are a few other teas I’d be willing to try from West China’s selection, like their Black TGY, but I’m going to plan it out if I do another purchase. While this is one of my more mixed and critical reviews, and I am very satisfied with the customer service, the price and the possibility of flavoring still bugs me. I’m curious to see what others think.
Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Coconut, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Mango, Milk, Orchid, Peach, Popcorn, Savory, Stems, Stonefruit, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood
No notes yet. Add one?
Backlog and Return:
The past two weeks have been tough. First of them was the slow physical recovery from the 2nd Moderna vaccine. Had all the temporary side effects letting me know my body was working and developing immunity with a dollop of misery. It took me a week before I was ready for any physical effort or strain.
Then the following week was a tough one at school. We discovered that 30% of our students have filed as homeless at one point, and we had more to deal with to help ensure our kids were safe and continually adjusting to being in school. As an alt. ed, we’ve already had every day instruction for more than half of our students, but since we have the go ahead to include more students, we’ve had a few new ones. So essentially, it’s the first week of school at the end of a trimester….so fun.
Fortunately, my avaricious consumerism and the frequent gifts of What-Cha and the goddess Guan Yin have visited me in those two weeks. I was stoked that Alistair had this in his line up this year-I’ve tried one other before, but unroasted Taiwanese TieGuanYin Gaoshans are so hard to find and so expensive. I’ve itched to get more from Taiwan Sourcing, but their pricing and shipping is beyond what I look for, so What-Cha came in to the rescue with a deal. I decided to budget by getting only 25 instead of the 50 I planned-I partially regret it because this is a very refreshing tea.
In terms of notes, this one was kinda hard to pin down in description. I’d be concerned I’d over describe. There are few specific flavors that came to mind with it that you could see other people tasting, even if they are novice, but the tea is on the ethereal spectrum of high mountain greener oolong, more along the lines of a Dayuling Yu Shan, or a Jade Oolong. Alistair also avoided over description by calling it clean, slightly sour, smooth as all of the company’s teas are, and floral. The tea is certainly green and clean, but not quite green enough for me to call it entirely vegetal. Maybe grassy and herbaceaous, but overwhelmingly floral, sweet, and light.
Earlier steeps gong fu or even western have some of the usual lilac and green notes you get from high mountain tea with a swath of the TGY varietal orchid notes, but it’s a little sweeter like sugarcane. The flavors amp up in steep 2 and 3, reminding me of a mix of cilantro and freshly canned pineapple, still plump with juice and water. I get more of the apricot sourness I’d associate from TGY in the third steep, and then it’s more prominent in steep four, then it fades. Last remaining steeps are generally green floral and vaguely fruity-effervescent as it has been.
I will say this one is better to do Gong Fu with either longer steeps or a decent amount of grammage, but it works well western and adequately grandpa for tumbler fuel. This is not a beginners tea, but it’s palette is very easy to drink and not at all drying. Depending on my budget, I’m going to have to include some of this again in my next order. It’s not as flavor forward as usual Qing Xin Li Shans or other Gaoshans, but it’s got a lot to offer in terms of aroma, and dare I say it, Qi.
The clarity of energy in this one is probably one of its biggest highlights. I also say that since I drank it during the clearing of Michigan’s cruel monochromatic grey weather that turned into a sunny blue and green day. Spring is sneaking through the snow as the sun wakes the grass from its slumber, as my wallet opens to spend more tea and share it with another.
Yes I rhymed. I was bored.
PS. The sourness reminds me of a green apple. Note added.
Flavors: Apricot, Creamy, Floral, Green, Green Apple, Herbs, Orchids, Pineapple, Pleasantly Sour, Sugarcane, Tart, Tropical
Backlog sample sipdown!
Thank Alistair for this sample!
Thought I wrote a note on it. Derk nailed most of it anyway. Very herbaceous, fresh, and crisp first flush with some funky fruit and floral vibes, but the olive note was the strongest for me personally. It was bordering on nearly oolong like for a black tea, but maintained the herby, buttery, savory flavor of most First Flush’s I’ve drank. I liked the black version more than the oolong. The heavier oxidation gave it a smoother body and some fruit to counterbalance the florals and grassiness that I got from the oolong version.
I personally would not reach out for this one due to preference, but it is one of the first flushes that I’ve taken my time with Gong Fu. I enjoyed some of the unusual notes, and I will say that it was refreshing compared to other green First Flush black teas.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Freshly Cut Grass, Fruity, Green, Green Apple, Herbs, Olives, Smooth
As the sun has come out, and the air chills, I’ve been catching up on my Dancong. I’ve also become more aware of my tea preference patterns for the season, and I tend to buy and drink black during fall and then heavily in December, and then I transition back into Oolongs during late winter and early spring, sometimes going into the summer with fruitier profiles.
As for this one, I think I’ve been sitting on it for about a year. I could have sworn I wrote a notes. I am kinda glad I didn’t since it’s evolved a little bit with the time I’ve had it.
When I first tried it, the tea was heavily floral, pungent, milky, and fruity, occasionally being a bit sharp for my preference. Leafhopper already beat me to describing the almond and gardenia profile along with the other ones like the minerals, oats, and honey. The tea is definitely on the greener side of Dan Congs, and the florals with slight astringency in the over leafed gong fu session gave me a little bit of a headache, so I gave myself a break…that turned into a year.
Now a year later, the tea mellowed out a bit and not quite as green. Almond milk, mineral, and acidic fruitiness is what I’m gettting this time. Earlier brews were more florals after about 45 seconds with 5 grams and 4.5 oz, and intensely creamy accented by a little bit of a nutty roast. Second brew is milky too, but more floral with a little bit of a pink salty mineral and sneaking fruitiness. Third brew, where I’m at now, is giving me more pithiness in the after taste and heavy minerals on the tongue more than creaminess. I wouldn’t describe it as citrusy, but it has a citrus peel feel-hence pithy. Aroma matches, but is heavy into almond blossom, cream, and gardenia. Not too off from a jasmine.
Brew four is more mellow, but its almond flavor, thinner body, and sneaking minerals. The tea is still floral, but it’s starting to resemble a more subdued green.
I am really glad I got this and would recommend it compared to other YaShis. This one is actually a bit smoother, but I would recommend it more to intermediate drinkers because it requires some attention to avoid astringency and bitterness. It is less astringent than most Dan Congs I’ve had, but shorter steeps help you avoid biterness altogether, but I do recommend using a lot of leaves for quick 5-10 second brews if want to, but less grams if you don’t think you can pay attention that long. I do not recommend grandpa for this one, but it works well western and tends to be smoothened out that way if you don’t go over 2 or 3 minutes.
I enjoy this one, but this one is really more seasonal for me personally. It was the perfect wake up tea after sleeping in to late, and for me getting back into my back to school in person routine.
Flavors: Almond, Astringent, Citrus, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Gardenias, Milk, Mineral, Roast Nuts, Smooth