943 Tasting Notes

83

I didn’t realize how much Jin Jun Mei I had in my home until I started this black tea binge around the end of last month. I have been prioritizing sipping them down since my experience suggests that such smaller-leaved black teas do not tend to keep as well as things like Yunnan Assamica. Luckily, I have yet to encounter one that has not been still more or less at its peak, but unfortunately, this Jin Jun Mei reduction effort has forced me to accept the fact that Jin Jun Mei is not my favorite type of Wuyi black tea. This one, however, was quite nice. It grew on me a great deal over the course of my time with it.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 16 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, and 7 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of baked bread, malt, smoke, honey, sweet potato, and molasses. After the rinse, I detected aromas of roasted peanut, green tomato, green bell pepper, earth, and cocoa. The first infusion brought out aromas of caramel and pine. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of baked bread, malt, smoke, sweet potato, cocoa, and roasted peanut that were chased by hints of grass, green tomato, earth, honey, caramel, and green bell pepper. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of cream, butter, straw, orange zest, ginger, grass, and marshmallow. Molasses and pine impressions emerged in the mouth and were accompanied by stronger and more immediately noticeable notes of caramel, grass, earth, honey, green tomato, and green bell pepper. I also picked up notes of minerals, cream, butter, straw, cinnamon, orange zest, ginger, lemon zest, and marshmallow. As the tea faded, the liquor continued to offer notes of minerals, malt, smoke, grass, cream, cinnamon, and cocoa that were chased by hints of pine, orange zest, butter, sweet potato, and straw.

This was a little earthier, smokier, and more vegetal than I generally expect Jin Jun Mei to be, but honestly, those qualities made this tea more appealing to me. Too often I find Jin Jun Mei to be a little boring and flat, but after all was said and done, I could not say those things about this one. It was a very lively, often prickly Jin Jun Mei that stuck with me long after I finished my review session. Ultimately, I would have liked to see a little more longevity and a little more balance out of this tea, but honestly, it was still a very nice Jin Jun Mei that was well worth the time and effort required to get to know it.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Ginger, Grass, Green Bell Peppers, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Molasses, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Smoke, Straw, Sweet Potatoes, Vegetal

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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97

This was another of my sipdowns from earlier in the month. It was also arguably the most impressive of all of the black teas I have finished within the last thirty or so days. The black teas What-Cha sources from Taiwan tend to be impressive, and this one was certainly no exception. Actually, of the comparatively few Red Jade black teas I have tried to this point in my life, this one has ended up being my favorite so far.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 subsequent 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 tea leaves produced aromas of sweet potato, honey, baked bread, wintergreen, molasses, and brown sugar. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of chocolate and red grape alongside even stronger wintergreen scents. The first infusion introduced subtle plum, cream, spinach, and malt aromas alongside even more amplified wintergreen scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of sweet potato, wintergreen, cream, malt, brown sugar, and baked bread that were chased by hints of honey, red grape, butter, and plum. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of pine, caramel, butter, and roasted almond as well as subtler scents of grass and green olive. Stronger and more immediate plum, red grape, butter, and honey notes came out in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging chocolate and molasses notes and hints of spinach. I also found impressions of minerals, pine, juniper, vanilla, caramel, and roasted almond and fleeting hints of grass, green olive, nutmeg, peach, and nectarine that were mostly limited to the finish and aftertaste. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized sweet potato, malt, caramel, baked bread, and cream notes that were chased by hints of pine, juniper, green olive, spinach, and grass as well as some distant, cooling wintergreen notes.

This was such a great tea. Not only did its liquor display impressive body and texture in the mouth, but it also had tons of depth and complexity and was tremendously fun to drink. A lot of the more complex black teas can be heavy and/or overwhelming, but this one was approachable and consistently fascinating. The menthol-like wintergreen aromas and flavors popped throughout my review session and beautifully framed everything else the tea had to offer. Honestly, I think it would be hard to ask for more from a Red Jade black tea. I loved this one. I’m fairly positive that fans of Red Jade black teas would be impressed by it.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Chocolate, Cream, Grapes, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Molasses, Nutmeg, Olives, Peach, Pine, Plums, Spinach, Stonefruit, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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77

This was one of my sipdowns from earlier in the month. I’m not sure why, but I have been craving Chinese black teas like crazy and have gone through several this month. Honestly, this was one of the weaker black teas I have finished off recently, and I was surprised to discover that considering that I am a huge fan of Yunnan black teas with a particular soft spot for some of the Simao black teas making their way to the West these days.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed 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 tea leaves produced aromas of chocolate, pine, sweet potato, honey, malt, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, brown sugar, cream, black cherry, and butter. The first infusion brought out a little smoke on the nose and a subtle cooked green bean scent. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of malt, cream, cooked green beans, chocolate, cinnamon, honey, and sweet potato that were chased by butter, brown sugar, roasted almond, and pine hints. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of earth, toast, fennel, black pepper, leather, camphor, and eucalyptus. Hints of smoke appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging black cherry and roasted peanut notes. I also picked up stronger and more immediately noticeable impressions of pine, roasted almond, and brown sugar. New notes of minerals, fennel, black pepper, toast, and leather appeared, and I was also able to detect hints of leather, camphor, eucalyptus, and earth. As the tea settled and faded, the liquor emphasized mineral, malt, roasted peanut, cream, and chocolate notes that were chased by hints of black pepper, camphor, roasted almond, eucalyptus, and pine. A smooth malty, nutty, creamy character was left in the mouth and throat after each swallow.

Compared to many of the other Yunnan black teas I have consumed over the last 3+ years, this one did not offer anything new. It did, however, produce a very nicely textured, mellow tea liquor, and it proved capable of displaying very respectable longevity in a gongfu session. Honestly, I could see this tea working really well in a blend due to its easygoing nature and pleasant texture. On its own, it wasn’t bad, but it also was rather dull and predictable.

Flavors: Almond, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Camphor, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Green Beans, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Peanut, Pine, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Toast

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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92

Yeah, let’s throw another one or two of these things out there before calling it a night. Why not? This was the last of the reviews from March in my backlog. Every time I sat down and tried to post this review, I ended up having something come up, or I just skipped over it in favor of reviewing something more recent. Anyway, this was an excellent Bai Hao oolong. I was a little shocked to see the ridiculous range of numerical scores for this tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 205 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 17 subsequent infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 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 emitted aromas of roasted almond, straw, honey, peach, and cinnamon. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of rose, violet, chocolate, malt, and baked bread. The first infusion introduced aromas of nutmeg and orange zest. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of roasted almond, rose, honey, straw, cinnamon, and baked bread that were chased by hints of nutmeg, violet, chocolate, and orange zest. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of pear, vanilla, sweet cherry, wood, plum, butter, guava, and minerals. Notes of peach and malt came out in the mouth alongside stronger and more readily noticeable impressions of orange zest and violet. Notes of nutmeg, minerals, plum, cream, vanilla, wood, guava, roasted peanut, sweet cherry, butter, marshmallow, brown sugar, and golden apple also emerged. As the tea faded, the liquor began to emphasize lingering impressions of minerals, rose, violet, roasted almond, honey, cinnamon, baked bread, butter, cream, peach, sweet cherry, and orange zest that were underscored by hints of vanilla, wood, malt, plum, nutmeg, guava, and pear.

This was a really nice example of a Taiwanese Bai Hao (Asian Beauty) oolong. It produced a liquor that had a ton of depth and complexity as well as a nice body and good texture in the mouth. Again, the ridiculous range of numerical scores for this tea shocks me. Even though I have not tried a ton of Asian Beauty oolongs, I have had several very high quality teas of this type, and honestly, I would say this one was very comparable to some of the best I have tried.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Guava, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Plums, Rose, Straw, Vanilla, Violet, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Kittenna

I was curious, so I took a quick look – it looks like scores range from 66-96? With Harney themselves as the top score facepalm. Were there other scores that have since been deleted?

eastkyteaguy

No, but it was just odd for me to see so much disagreement over how this tea should be scored. A lot of reviews seemed to hover in the 70s or 80s, but the range seemed rather extreme overall. I didn’t notice the Harney rating until right before I posted this review. While it is annoying to see a vendor gaming the ratings, Harney doing it doesn’t bother me as badly because they don’t seem to be doing this any longer, and they also don’t seem to give everything they offer ridiculously high scores.

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78

Okay, I’m finally back with a new review. I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to be posting anything else here on Steepster since this place seems like it’s on life support and just barely hanging on, but I decided to go ahead and do so simply because I wanted to keep my backlog of reviews from growing any larger and also because I still like this place. For now, I’m unwilling to entirely give up on it. That being said, I am investigating some new forums for potential contributions to the tea world just in case Steepster goes belly-up. With all of that out of the way, I have some things to share. Those of you who get annoyed with personal updates in their tea reviews and have made it this far should get off this train now. This has been a hell of a week for me. It was a very heavy work week that started off with my credit card getting skimmed Monday. Then my debit card got hit Wednesday. Luckily, I was able to get assistance from my bank’s fraud protection department and was able to recoup the vast majority of my losses without interrupting my work schedule, but this experience led me to review my financial situation and also the extent of my online presence. I have known for some time that I spend way too much time on the internet and do way too much online shopping, so I took this opportunity to cut down on my online presence and expenses. Outside of Steepster, if it even really counts at all, I have done away with my social media presence and have been spending far less time online. I’ve been working on getting back in shape for the last month or so anyway, so my computer and phone time had been steadily tapering off, but I have reduced it even further. It was jarring at first, but cutting the cord felt wonderful. I’m a fairly grumpy, reserved, asocial person IRL. I tend to shy away from social gatherings and obligations and spend most of my time at home with my cats. Not having to deal with the flood of notifications and not feeling the constant urge to check my social media presence has been a breath of fresh air. I feel more comfortable in my own skin than I have in several years. I’m less stressed, pessimistic, and angry. I don’t feel burdened by relationships that had become a chore. I feel like I can spend more time authentically interacting with the people I like and respect and with whom I share interests. I’m finally starting to make concrete plans regarding my future, have been taking better care of myself, and have begun to pick some of my older hobbies and interests back up. Make no mistake, I’ll still be around, but there is a good chance that my little breaks from Steepster will eventually grow longer and longer.

Well, now that I have written a novella, let’s talk about this tea. I’m not normally a chai guy, but this blend wasn’t bad. I tend to prefer my chai very spicy and herbal in character, so this was a little mild for my tastes. I could not help thinking that it was missing some characteristics that would make it more memorable. Overall, though, this was not bad.

I prepared this tea in the Western style. I started off by steeping approximately 3 grams of the loose chai blend in 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes. For my first encounter with this tea, I did not use any additives of any kind. After trying it unadorned, I decided to see how it worked with an addition of 2% milk, so I again steeped about 3 grams of the chai mix in 8 ounces of 194 F water for 5 minutes and then added a healthy splash of milk to try to tame it.

Prior to infusion, the dry chai blend emitted aromas of cardamom, fennel, and ginger. After infusion, I picked up aromas of cream, malt, caramel, and cocoa underscored by slightly muted cardamom, fennel, and ginger aromas. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cardamom, fennel, and ginger on the entry before revealing impressions of cream, malt, wood, caramel, cocoa, and brown toast that were chased by hints of molasses just before the swallow. Cocoa, caramel, malt, molasses, ginger, fennel, and cardamom impressions were evident on the finish, which brought out noticeable bitterness and astringency as well as hints of roasted walnut. Trying this blend with an addition of 2% milk eliminated the astringency and tamed the bitterness somewhat, though it also seriously muted the fennel, ginger, and cardamom, coming across as a CTC Assam with just a pinch of chai spices added.

As stated above, this was not a bad packaged chai, but it also was not all that special either. I know I have said it before, but commercial blends like this can rarely if ever equal or beat real homemade chai. In the end, I suppose this was pretty good for what it was. I have certainly tried worse chai blends, and I could see people who prefer their chai milder and mellower than I generally do being into it, but I just couldn’t fall in love with this one.

P.S. I’m lazy. I have been sitting on this review since January.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Brown Toast, Caramel, Cardamom, Cocoa, Cream, Fennel, Ginger, Malt, Molasses, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
8 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Roswell Strange

I’m sorry to hear about the fraud issues; that can be so scary but thankfully you caught it before too much damage was done! For the record, I’m happy to read your review; personal content included or not! As long as you keep writing, I’ll keep reading :)

ashmanra

I am glad you got that “breath of fresh air.” I need to cut back on screen time. One of my biggest problems is constantly just looking things up and reading to the point that I am stiff from sitting! I have been walking more, moving more, and it does feel good. Hope things get better and better for you!

Mastress Alita

I’ve dealt with online fraud too, and still don’t know how I got hit… but I do a lot of online shopping too, to be fair! Crazy how prevalent it is. My bank was also really on the ball with it, though! I’m also a very asocial person that stays off of social media… I think I would describe myself as a “power introvert”. Great that you feel more comfortable in your own skin!

mrmopar

I got skimmed a few years back as well. Hope you will hang around with us.

derk

Glad to see you posting as always. Sorry to hear about the fraud issues. I’ve had it happen once on my credit card after buying some model rockets online. Luckily the CC company was on it like me on tea but I never did notify the rocket company of the issue and that they need to update their checkout security.

As far as your other goings on, I think we all recognize how easy it is to get snared in the internet and social media. Happy to hear you’re finding ways to improve your life away from the computer. I went through the whole process of completely deleting my Facebook account maybe 8 years ago and have never once regretted it. I, too, value authenticity in interactions and have found that Steepster, even in the midst of its seeming admin abandonment, somehow fills that need. Can one fake a love for tea? That was supposed to be rhetorical and then I remembered the recent shill reviews popping up. What can you do.

All that said, I hope you don’t delete your invaluable reviews here if you choose to move on to other tea avenues. And keep up the self improvement. Best to you, guy.

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90

This is my most recent sipdown to this point as I finished what I had of this tea last night. I had been meaning to get around to this one for some time, but for whatever reason, I put off drinking it until this week. Anyone who reads my reviews knows that Yunnan black tea is one of my things; indeed, I drink Yunnan black teas pretty frequently and also tend to be pretty picky about them. This one I found to be a keeper.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 subsequent 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 tea buds produced aromas of baked bread, malt, sweet potato, and chocolate. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of roasted almond, roasted peanut, sugarcane, eucalyptus, and cinnamon. The first infusion then introduced aromas of walnut, black pepper, and hay. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of baked bread, malt, cream, chocolate, sugarcane, walnut, eucalyptus, roasted almond, and hay that were balanced by hints of black pepper, butter, sweet potato, and cinnamon. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of apple, minerals, clove, wheat toast, moss, green bell pepper, cedar, and leather. Stronger and more immediately detectable butter, sweet potato, black pepper, and cinnamon notes came out in the mouth alongside notes of caramel, moss, apple, minerals, grass, leather, cedar, earth, orange zest, green bell pepper, and wheat toast. I also detected subtle hints of clove and roasted peanut. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized lingering notes of minerals, earth, malt, wheat toast, moss, grass, and baked bread that were chased by hints of roasted almond, cream, sugarcane, black pepper, hay, and eucalyptus.

I think what I appreciated so much about this tea was that its liquor was so balanced and smooth. Sometimes I find that Yunnan black teas can be overwhelmingly malty and/or treacly, but that was not the case with this tea. All of its components worked together well, making for a thoroughly pleasant drinking experience. In the end, this would definitely be a tea for fans of Yunnan black teas to check out.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Butter, Caramel, Cedar, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Clove, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Green Bell Peppers, Hay, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Moss, Orange Zest, Peanut, Sugarcane, Sweet Potatoes, Toast, Walnut, Wheat

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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76

This was one of my sipdowns from around the end of March and the start of the current month. It was also a tea I kind of rushed into blindly in the sense that I did not research it much. I tend to be a really huge fan of Red Jade black teas, so I was eager to see what a Red Jade GABA oolong would be like. Ultimately, I found this tea to be a unique and rather enjoyable expression of the Red Jade cultivar, though I also felt that it would probably not be for everyone.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of rolled tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 16 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 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 tea leaves emitted aromas of baked bread, sweet potato, brown sugar, chocolate, and molasses. After the rinse, I noted new aromas of spinach, wintergreen, and red grape. The first infusion then introduced aromas of plum and malt. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of baked bread, malt, sweet potato, molasses, red grape, plum, and wintergreen that were backed by hints of chocolate and spinach. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of geranium, grass, earth, pear, horehound, wood, blood orange, red apple, and straw. Notes of cream, minerals, geranium, pear, grass, red apple, wood, straw, horehound, earth, honey, and blood orange appeared in the mouth alongside belatedly emerging brown sugar notes and hints of leather and tobacco. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, sweet potato, plum, malt, cream, earth, red apple, pear, straw, and grass that were balanced by hints of geranium, spinach, brown sugar, horehound, molasses, and wintergreen.

Overall, this was an odd, interesting, and rather enjoyable GABA oolong, but it was also very challenging and prickly. Personally, this was a tea for which I would have to be in the mood. I could not ever imagine it being a regular basis tea, let alone an everyday tea. Still, it had a lot to offer, and I could see drinkers curious to see how the Red Jade cultivar handles being processed into anything other than a black tea or those who enjoy quirky and/or experimental teas getting a kick out of it.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Blood Orange, Brown Sugar, Chocolate, Cream, Earth, Geranium, Grapes, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Leather, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Pear, Plums, Red Apple, Spinach, Straw, Sweet Potatoes, Tobacco, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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56

Here is a review I have dreaded posting for a couple weeks now. Though I really hate posting uniformly negative reviews, truly mixed or mediocre reviews can be much worse for me because it is so hard for me to figure out what to say in them. That is the situation this tea put me in, as I didn’t find it to be truly bad. Instead, it was more boring and mediocre to me.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 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, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves produced aromas of malt, baked bread, honey, sweet potato, molasses, and smoke. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of brown sugar and butter along with significantly more amplified sweet potato, malt, smoke, and molasses scents. The first infusion then brought out aromas of ginger, earth, black pepper, and orchid. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered up notes of malt, butter, baked bread, roasted almond, honey, molasses, and earth that were chased by hints of orange zest, black pepper, orchid, honey, and brown sugar. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of pine, orange zest, moss, minerals, roasted almond, violet, and cocoa. Notes of smoke, sweet potato, and ginger came out in the mouth along with much heavier honey and orange zest notes and slightly amplified impressions of orchid and brown sugar. I also found notes of minerals, moss, lemon zest, violet, cocoa, heather, caramel, and pine that were accompanied by fleeting traces of nutmeg. As the tea faded, I continued to note impressions of minerals, roasted almond, malt, baked bread, pine, and lemon zest that were balanced by hints of earth, caramel, ginger, heather, honey, and sweet potato.

While the floral impressions this tea displayed were nice, there was really nothing else that was all that interesting to me about this Jin Jun Mei. To be fair, Jin Jun Mei is not normally one of favorite Wuyishan black teas, and it is not as if I have had a ton of them by any means, but still, I have had enough to know what I like and what I don’t. In my opinion, this tea went a bit too heavy on the malty, earthy, citrusy, and buttery notes without enough floral characteristics and honey, caramel, molasses, and brown sugar sweetness to properly achieve balance and bring everything into focus. It also faded rather quickly on me. In the end, I could not make up my mind about this one. It was drinkable and certainly was not terrible, yet it was also not all that inspiring or captivating either. A meh score a little below 60 feels about right to me.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Black Pepper, Brown Sugar, Butter, Caramel, Cocoa, Earth, Floral, Ginger, Honey, Lemon Zest, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Moss, Nutmeg, Orange Zest, Orchid, Pine, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes, Violet

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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99

Hi, everybody! It’s been a rather long time, hasn’t it? I’ll go ahead and admit that life has taken precedence over reviewing for the last couple of weeks. Work has been a killer for me, and I have had lots of personal stuff to deal with too. Even when I have had free time, I have not been able to force myself to post here. For whatever reason, I have just not been able to focus on writing. I’m still drinking tea like crazy, though, and I have been steadily building up quite a backlog in the space of the past month. This was one of my sipdowns from the first half of last month, and quite frankly, it is still a tea I think about often. I wish I had purchased more of it when I had the opportunity because this was a fantastic black tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 194 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 tea leaves emitted aromas of malt, honey, baked bread, strawberry, blackberry, and red grape. After the rinse, I detected new aromas of sweet potato, roasted peanut, brown sugar, cocoa, plum, and menthol. The first infusion introduced aromas of candied orange, eucalyptus, and black cherry. The menthol scent also grew somewhat stronger. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of sweet potato, malt, baked bread, cocoa, red grape, candied orange, plum, strawberry, brown sugar, and menthol that were backed by hints of black cherry, blackberry, cream, eucalyptus, and vanilla. The subsequent infusions brought out aromas of black currant, blueberry, cream, date, orange zest, vanilla, melon, wood, and marshmallow. Stronger and more immediate cream, black cherry, menthol, and vanilla notes appeared in the mouth along with impressions of honey and roasted peanut. I also noted impressions of minerals, blueberry, marshmallow, wood, black currant, red pear, date, red apple, and orange zest as well as some subtle hints of watermelon. As the tea settled and faded, I was left with impressions of minerals, malt, baked bread, wood, sweet potato, menthol, plum, cream, and orange zest that were underscored by subtle hints of black cherry, blackberry, blueberry, eucalyptus, brown sugar, honey, cocoa, and roasted peanut.

It is very rarely that a Taiwanese black tea disappoints me, but it is also a rare occurrence when one impresses me as much as this tea did. For a tea displaying such incredible depth and complexity, it was neither poorly balanced nor overwhelming. It was also incredibly lacking in astringency, rendering a smooth, silky liquor that was never lacking in approachability. Overall, this was a fantastic Taiwanese black tea. It even reminded me a bit of some of the more consistently hyped Taiwanese black teas to have gained a following on Steepster and elsewhere (Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black and Premium Taiwanese Assam, anyone?) but with one important difference: this tea may have been slightly better than most of them.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Black Currant, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brown Sugar, Candy, Cherry, Cocoa, Cream, Dates, Eucalyptus, Grapes, Honey, Malt, Marshmallow, Melon, Menthol, Mineral, Orange, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pear, Plums, Red Apple, Strawberry, Sweet Potatoes, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Ubacat

Wow, that’s a lot of flavours in that tea! I haven’t left many reviews lately either for a long time. Somehow even though I enjoyed Steepster my reviews didn’t work for me when reordering. I could never find old reviews or I couldn’t sort by order of rating. These days I just record it on my Tea Excel report and note how much I liked it.

Evol Ving Ness

Wow indeed!

Daylon R Thomas

I almost got that one too. Now, I regret it.

derk

hey guy, hope all is well!

tea-sipper

BETTER than Butiki?!

eastkyteaguy

tea-sipper, maybe, or just as good at the very least. Whispering Pines’ current Taiwanese offerings are allegedly sourced from the same place as Butiki’s. Having had several of those teas and then trying this one, I can safely say this tea struck me as being at least as good if not just a little bit better.

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92

This was yet another recent sipdown of mine. I only had 25 grams of this tea to work through and finished them over the course of two or three days toward the beginning of last week. I know that I have gone a bit crazy with Taiwanese oolongs this month, but I have had quite a few good ones to work through, and this one was yet another winner. I will probably switch to something else the moment I hit one that does not move me in any way, but that may take some time at this rate.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After the rinse, I steeped 6 grams of tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was followed by 17 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 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 emitted aromas of brown sugar, chocolate, burnt toast, golden raisin, pine, and plum. After the rinse, I detected aromas of cherry, roasted almond, vanilla, red apple, and malt. The first infusion introduced aromas of cinnamon and butterscotch. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of brown sugar, cream, vanilla, pine, burnt toast, chocolate, golden raisin, malt, and roasted almond that were chased by hints of red apple, cherry, pear, cinnamon, and hazelnut. The subsequent infusions introduced aromas of pear, fig, white grape, nutmeg, blackberry, coffee, and hazelnut. Butterscotch and plum impressions emerged in the mouth, while stronger and more immediately evident cinnamon, red apple, hazelnut, and cherry impressions made themselves known. I also found impressions of minerals, fig, nutmeg, white grape, cream, coffee, and blackberry. As the tea faded, the liquor emphasized notes of minerals, pine, vanilla, cream, cinnamon, brown sugar, malt, roasted almond, and burnt toast that were underscored by hints of chocolate, pear, golden raisin, hazelnut, plum, butterscotch, and cherry.

This was one of those oolongs that was easy for me to write off at first because it was just so balanced and drinkable. More patient, focused sipping, however, revealed a simultaneously complex and approachable tea that was truly masterfully crafted. The liquor was both aromatic and flavorful yet lusciously thick and gorgeously textured, and it offered tremendous longevity and sneaky, gently invigorating energy to boot. In the end, there was not much of note for me to criticize about this tea. If you are looking for a high quality GABA oolong, this would be one to consider.

Flavors: Almond, Blackberry, Brown Sugar, Burnt, Butterscotch, Cherry, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Coffee, Cream, Fig, Hazelnut, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Pear, Pine, Plums, Raisins, Red Apple, Toast, Vanilla, White Grapes

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Kawaii433

Oooh I liked this one and the Vietnamese one too.

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My grading criteria for tea is as follows:

90-100: Exceptional. I love this stuff. If I can get it, I will drink it pretty much every day.

80-89: Very good. I really like this stuff and wouldn’t mind keeping it around for regular consumption.

70-79: Good. I like this stuff, but may or may not reach for it regularly.

60-69: Solid. I rather like this stuff and think it’s a little bit better-than-average. I’ll drink it with no complaints, but am more likely to reach for something I find more enjoyable than revisit it with regularity.

50-59: Average. I find this stuff to be more or less okay, but it is highly doubtful that I will revisit it in the near future if at all.

40-49: A little below average. I don’t really care for this tea and likely won’t have it again.

39 and lower: Varying degrees of yucky.

Don’t be surprised if my average scores are a bit on the high side because I tend to know what I like and what I dislike and will steer clear of teas I am likely to find unappealing.

Location

KY

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