943 Tasting Notes

86

Okay, I’m getting around to posting this review way later than planned. I finished a bunch of tea samples from Old Ways Tea last month, and until now, I have yet to get around to posting any of them. I decided to get this one up here first simply because I have not reviewed a lapsang souchong in what feels like forever. As Wuyi smoked black teas go, this was a very good one, though I also doubt it would be the sort of tea a lot of people would want to drink regularly. That’s the thing about lapsang souchong-regardless of whether or not you enjoy it, it’s not really an everyday, all seasons kind of tea. It’s also the sort of tea that you either enjoy or you don’t, and if you have tried multiple lapsang souchongs and have yet to find one that you enjoy, there is no guarantee that you will ever find one to your liking.

Naturally, I prepared this tea gongfu style. I ended up buying a couple of small gaiwans from Old Ways Tea and decided to break one of them out for this session. After a very brief rinse, I steeped 5 grams of loose tea leaves in approximately 3 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased 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 emitted aromas of pine smoke, tar, char, cedar, and honey. After the rinse, I picked up emerging aromas of roasted peanut, malt, and cinnamon. The first infusion then saw the pine smoke reassert itself on the nose. In the mouth, I surprisingly found gentle notes of malt backed by subtle impressions of cinnamon, char, cedar, roasted peanut, and pine smoke. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn citrusy and spicy. Notes of cream, minerals, brown sugar, roasted almond, and toast appeared in the mouth. I also noted the belated emergence of a slight honey flavor in the mouth as well as hints of chocolate and orange zest. The pine smoke notes were somewhat more prevalent on these infusions, though they remained much more restrained and sophisticated than the nose would have led me to expect. The final infusions offered lingering mineral, malt, and pine smoke notes backed by fleeting touches of cream, roasted nuts, brown sugar, and orange zest. A cooling menthol-like herbal impression also showed itself on the swallow.

An impressive, sophisticated, and surprisingly restrained lapsang souchong, I am willing to bet that fans of such smoked black teas would find a lot to enjoy in this one. My only real complaint was that I felt that the smokiness could have been a little more pronounced throughout, but for those who prefer a lighter smokiness in such teas, I am sure that will not be a complaint at all. Those who hate lapsang souchong will probably not be converted by this tea, but I found it to be very enjoyable. I would not want to have it every day, but it did make me hopeful that Old Ways Tea will soon bring in more smoked black teas for me to try. Judging by this one, I am certain that any future lapsang souchongs they source will be worthwhile.

Flavors: Almond, Brown Sugar, Cedar, Char, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Honey, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Orange Zest, Peanut, Pine, Roasted, Smoke, Tar, Toast

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Daylon R Thomas

I hope the others black teas are up to par for you. I am still surprised how impressed I was with the Grass and Honey fragrance blacks.

eastkyteaguy

Daylon, I have both the grass and honey fragrance black teas, but have yet to try either. I enjoyed both the 2016 and 2017 old tree black teas. The 2016 product was fantastic, and I recall being impressed that it had mellowed without losing any of its complexities. I also loved their 2016 wild style black tea, which was actually a purple bud black tea. The only one of their oolongs that I recall trying was the 2016 Hua Xiang Shui Xian. It was very good, but at one point, I recall thinking that, even around two years out from production, the roast could have used a little more time to settle.

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90

I increasingly find myself being drawn to the teas produced by Feng Qing Tea Factory. Their black teas, in particular, seem to display some unique qualities that I do not always get out of other Yunnan black teas. I know that some people find Feng Qing teas to display floral qualities, but I almost always perceive vibrant vegetal and herbal tones. Now, what does any of this have to do with this particular tea? Well, this tea was a Feng Qing black tea, and given my love of Feng Qing teas, it should not come as a surprise that I ended up loving this one. As a matter of fact, I found it to be a stellar example of a Feng Qing black tea.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose leaf buds in 4 ounces of 194 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed 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, I detected pleasant aromas of pine, honey, malt, and cocoa coming from the dry leaf buds. After the rinse, I found emerging scents of burnt toast, herbs, and sweet potato. The first infusion then brought out stronger piney and herbal scents. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of malt, pine, burnt toast, honey, cocoa, and sweet potato chased by a subtle herbal note reminiscent of eucalyptus and a slight caramel sweetness. Subsequent infusions saw the nose take on more complex herbal qualities and some spiciness-I detected aromas of black pepper, cedar, juniper, and fennel. There was also an earthiness that emerged on the nose along with some vegetal qualities reminiscent of celery and green beans. In the mouth, notes of earth, camphor, butter, black pepper, minerals, fennel, cream, cedar, nutmeg, celery, cinnamon, green beans, grass, and juniper appeared. The last infusions offered subtle notes of minerals, malt, earth, cocoa, and cream backed by fleeting hints of camphor, fennel, eucalyptus, black pepper, celery, and green beans.

An interesting, satisfying, and extremely complex black tea, this would be the type of black tea to turn to when one is looking for something highly aromatic with loads of flavor. This tea also displayed respectable longevity in the mouth as well as great body and texture. If you are a fan of Yunnan black teas and looking for one that is more challenging and more rewarding than many others, do yourself a favor and give this tea a shot. While you’re at it, try a few other Feng Qing teas too.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Burnt, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Cedar, Celery, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Eucalyptus, Fennel, Grass, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Nutmeg, Pine, Sweet Potatoes, Toast

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

This was another of the teas I finished back around the start of May. Originating in Hunan Province, this black tea was produced from a cultivar normally used in the production of oolong. Like most of the Chinese black teas offered by Harney & Sons, I found it to be more or less excellent and a great value to boot.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 212 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was chased by 15 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, and 5 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of peach, pine, toast, and honey. After the rinse, I noted stronger peach and honey scents as well as emerging apricot, butter, and roasted almond aromas. There were some hints of malt too. The first infusion brought out aromas of straw and candied orange peel. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered notes of peach, honey, and apricot on the entry that were immediately chased by roasted almond, butter, malt, toast, straw, and candied orange peel notes. There were also surprising hints of rose on the swallow. The subsequent infusions saw rose and vanilla emerge on the nose. Subtle pine notes belatedly emerged in the mouth. New impressions of caramel, cream, minerals, and mango also showed themselves. The last infusions offered soft, lingering mineral, roasted almond, and cream notes that were balanced by even softer impressions of malt and vanilla.

Though this was not the most complex black tea in the world, it was incredibly unique and enjoyable. No component was out of place, as everything worked wonderfully together. I would love to know which cultivar was used to produce this tea. Definitely check this one out if you are looking for a sweeter, fruitier black tea unlike many others on the market.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Butter, Caramel, Cream, Honey, Malt, Mango, Mineral, Orange, Peach, Pine, Rose, Straw, Toast, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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61

Since my focus in recent months has been on posting reviews of teas I drank ages ago, I figured it was time to take a break and highlight something I drank a little more recently. This ended up being the last of the winter 2016 Floating Leaves oolongs I got around to trying. I finished a pouch of it at the end of last week, and while I did not find it to be stale or anything (I usually take my time getting around to roasted oolongs because I want the roast to settle), it did not strike me as being particularly vibrant or likable. Compared to the spring 2016 version of this tea, which I loved, this one was just kind of lacking in comparison.

Naturally, I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was followed by 15 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, vanilla, cream, and wood. After the rinse, I noted emerging aromas of honey, caramelized banana, bruised plantain, and orchid. The first infusion saw the orchid scent grow stronger. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered light notes of baked bread, vanilla, cream, wood, and orchid. Subsequent infusions saw the nose take on aromas of roasted cashew, chocolate, roasted almond, and mango. Flavors of caramelized banana, honey, and plantain emerged in the mouth while new impressions of roasted almond, butter, roasted cashew, nutmeg, mango, chocolate, steamed milk, brown sugar, apple, minerals, golden raisin, cinnamon, and toasted rice also emerged. The last infusions offered lingering mineral, nutmeg, vanilla, cream, and toasted rice notes balanced by subtler impressions of baked bread, steamed milk, cinnamon, and caramelized banana.

There was a lot going on in this tea, and while I loved the way the flavors and textures kept changing, nothing really came together in a way that was fully satisfying for me. There were some flavor components that oddly and noticeably clashed with one another, causing some of the tea’s most appealing characteristics to get lost in the mix on a number of infusions. This tea seemed like it was missing some aspect (a little vegetal character, perhaps?) that would have evened it out and provided some much needed balance. Roasted Dong Ding oolongs (even those with a very light roast) have a tendency to age gracefully in my experience, so maybe this tea had just hit an awkward phase when I decided to drink it. I’m not certain what was going on here, but I do know that this tea did not quite stand up to some of the other roasted 2016 Dong Dings I have tried very recently. In the end, I will not necessarily caution others to avoid this tea, but since it is out of stock and out of season, I won’t bother to recommend it either. There are much more appealing and immediately likable Dong Ding oolongs out there anyway.

Flavors: Almond, Apple, Baked Bread, banana, Brown Sugar, Butter, Chocolate, Cinnamon, Cream, Fruity, Honey, Mango, Milk, Mineral, Nutmeg, Orchid, Raisins, Roasted Nuts, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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91

This was the other tea I received in my Longfengxia sampler tin last year. Like the winter oolong from that set, I finished my sample of this tea back around the start of May. Oddly, I reviewed that one first on Steepster, but I actually tried this tea and wrote a rough draft of a review for it prior to the winter oolong. Even though this was not the last tea I tried from that sampler, it is the last of the trio to get a review here on Steepster. Like the other two, I found a lot to love about this tea, and that is really saying something considering I normally prefer the high mountain oolongs produced from the winter picking to those produced from the spring picking.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, the dry tea leaves emitted aromas of sugarcane, cream, butter, and vanilla with some vague floral hints in the background. After the rinse, I found emerging aromas of custard, violet, and lilac. The first infusion introduced some umami character and stronger, fuller floral aromas to the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of cream, butter, and sugarcane chased by grass, spinach, coriander, kale, umami, and vanilla impressions. Subsequent infusions saw the nose turn more vegetal, as the vegetal notes I found in the mouth at the tail end of the initial steep made themselves known on the nose. Violet, lilac, and custard belatedly emerged in the mouth alongside new impressions of lychee, Asian pear, pineapple, green apple, minerals, orange zest, steamed rice, and seaweed. The last infusions offered lingering notes of minerals, cream, and butter backed by hints of umami, sugarcane, steamed rice, and spinach.

Of the three Taiwan Tea Crafts Longfengxia offerings I sampled, this was by far the quirkiest, liveliest, and most fascinating overall. It was not my favorite of the three (I still have a huge soft spot for the winter oolongs), but it was the most memorable since it stuck with me longer than the others. I know I expressed this viewpoint in my review for this tea’s winter sibling, but make a point of checking out some of Taiwan Tea Crafts’ Longfengxia offerings. The few I have tried have all been more or less exceptional.

Flavors: Butter, Coriander, Cream, Custard, Floral, Grass, Green Apple, Kale, Lychee, Mineral, Orange Zest, Pear, Pineapple, Rice, Seaweed, Spinach, Sugarcane, Umami, Vanilla, Violet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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93

Here is another blast from the past review. I finally got around to drinking my sample of this tea back around the start of May (I received it as part of Taiwan Tea Crafts’ Longfengxia sampler). Naturally, I have been sitting on this review, like so many others, ever since. Though it is now very much out of season and out of stock, I found this tea to be an excellent high mountain oolong.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 195 F water for 10 seconds. This infusion was chased by 12 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 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, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I detected aromas of cream, butter, sugarcane, vanilla, and gardenia. After the rinse, umami came out on the nose alongside a subtle custard scent. The first infusion then brought out a somewhat stronger umami character. In the mouth, I noted flavors of cream, butter, vanilla, sugarcane, and gardenia accompanied by unexpected sweet corn, orange blossom, and grass notes. Subsequent infusions introduced hints of orange zest and orange blossom to the nose. New impressions of minerals, honeydew, orange zest, hyacinth, narcissus, spinach, pear, tangerine, coconut, and steamed milk appeared in the mouth along with belatedly emerging custard notes. The final infusions emphasized lingering mineral, umami, tangerine, coconut, and orange zest notes balanced by subtle touches of butter, cream, pear, and custard.

As stated earlier, this was a very nice high mountain oolong. Longfengxia is rapidly becoming one of my favorite terroirs; I have not had a bad tea from the area to this point. Definitely check out some of Taiwan Tea Crafts’ Longfengxia offerings. My limited experience with them indicates that they are all very much worth trying.

Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Coconut, Cream, Custard, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Honeydew, Milk, Mineral, Narcissus, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Pear, Spinach, Sugarcane, Sweet, Umami, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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92

I promised a couple of reviews this evening, and once I post this one, I will have delivered on that promise. No one better say I never follow through-I do on rare occasions. I finished a couple of sample pouches of this tea back around the middle of May, though an exact date eludes me. I’m a big fan of Nepalese teas in general, and for the most part, I have adored the Nepalese oolongs I have tried. How did I feel about this one? Well, I loved it too.

Naturally, I gongfued this tea. 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 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 emitted aromas of hay, herbs, and straw alongside subtler scents of Muscatel, caramel and fresh flowers. The rinse brought out clearly defined aromas of amaryllis, dandelion, rose, burdock, and roasted almond. The first infusion then introduced a definite scent of wintergreen oil along with scents of malt and violet. In the mouth, the tea liquor offered smooth notes of rose, dandelion, violet, and Muscatel chased by notes of roasted almond, straw, hay, burdock, wintergreen oil, caramel, and malt. Subsequent infusions saw the nose retain a good deal of its floral, herbal, and fruity characteristics. I definitely caught a touch of marigold in there. New notes of butter, anise, nutmeg, apricot, menthol, wood, marigold, lemon, and minerals emerged in the mouth along with a slight toastiness. The last infusions retained notes of minerals, cream, lemon, and roasted almond as well as some accents of menthol, malt, caramel, and wintergreen oil.

A powerful, intensely aromatic, and unbelievably flavorful oolong, this ended up being one of the most interesting and unique teas I have tried in months. What-Cha does an exceptional job of sourcing Nepalese teas and this one was yet another winner. Unfortunately, it has been out of stock for some time, but should it ever return, I will be making a point of purchasing more.

Flavors: Almond, Anise, Apricot, Butter, Caramel, Dandelion, Floral, Hay, Herbaceous, Lemon, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Muscatel, Nutmeg, Rose, Straw, Toast, Vegetal, Violet, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Teatotaler

This oolong is going on my What-Cha wish list!

What-Cha

Sadly it will not be returning due to issues with the farmer last year but I’m very much on the lookout for similar Nepalese teas from other farmers, hopefully I’ll have some luck over the coming weeks.

Fjellrev

Wow, sounds like a lovely one.

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93

After a long layoff, I am back again with a couple more reviews. Now that I’m slowly getting back into the swing of school, I should be able to start posting a little more regularly and get everyone who reads my stuff up to speed on more of what I have been drinking over the course of the past month. I think I finished my sample pouch of this tea sometime during the second half of May. Though I found this to be an excellent tea, I must express my irritation with it being advertised as a black tea. I get the reasoning on the part of the vendor. Though this was an oolong, it did, in fact, look, smell, and taste much more like a black tea. Still, I am notorious for (gently) calling out vendors on nonsense like this, so, for the record, there was absolutely no need to advertise this as a black tea. Just saying.

[Note: Alistair, I’m not trying to rip on you here. I have seen a lot of this “this tea is ____, but think of it more as ____” stuff from several vendors over the course of the past year and it is totally unnecessary. I see where you were coming from, so I do understand why you would have found this tea to be more similar to a black tea than any sort of traditional oolong. As a matter of fact, I would not have realized this was an oolong had I not read the product description.]

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a brief rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 F water for 8 seconds. This infusion was chased by 14 additional infusions. Steep times for these infusions were as follows: 10 seconds, 13 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 emitted pleasant aromas of raisin, prune, fig, and nectarine. After the rinse, I detected aromas of wood, roasted almond, and honey. The first infusion brought out some hints of brown sugar and malt on the nose. In the mouth, I found flavors of raisin, prune, fig, malt, roasted almond, wood, and honey chased by a sweetness that reminded me slightly more of caramel than brown sugar. Subsequent infusions saw the nose take on characteristics of chocolate, cream, and caramel. New flavors of eucalyptus, camphor, cream, chocolate, minerals, and butter emerged, while fleeting impressions of nectarine belatedly showed themselves along with hints of orange zest and stewed apricot. The final infusions offered lingering mineral, cream, malt, honey, and roasted almond impressions balanced by subtler notes of butter, chocolate, and caramel.

As stated in the note section above, I would not have known that this was an oolong had I not read the product description. In this case, I may not like the way this tea was marketed, but I can totally see why someone would choose to think of this more as a black tea. As a matter of fact, it may actually be helpful for some people to consider it as such because, if you do not have a ton of experience with a variety of more heavily oxidized oolongs, this tea could be one hell of a hammer curveball for you. I may be a bit of a weirdo, but I loved this tea. In terms of aroma and flavor, it occupied a perfect middle ground between an orthodox Yunnan black tea and a more heavily oxidized oolong. This was a unique offering and a little odd, but totally lovable nonetheless.

Flavors: Almond, Apricot, Brown Sugar, Butter, Camphor, Caramel, Chocolate, Cream, Dried Fruit, Eucalyptus, Fig, Honey, Mineral, Orange Zest, Raisins, Stonefruit, Wood

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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90

Here is another review from my backlog. Getting at least a couple of these previously neglected reviews up today will go a long way toward making me feel more productive. I polished off a sample pouch of this tea back around the middle of May. I was on a huge Chinese black tea kick at the time and still kind of am, though I have continued to devote a considerable amount of my free time to consuming various oolongs as well. I’m a fan of Golden Monkey in general, so I went into my review session for this tea with high expectations. Fortunately, it did not disappoint. Actually, I will go ahead and state that this was perhaps one of the best Golden Monkey black teas I have tried to this point in my life.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 203 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, I detected aromas of dark chocolate, malt, caramel, and plum coming from the dry tea leaves. After the rinse, I found a much heavier dark chocolate scent as well as new aromas of dark wood and burnt toast. The first infusion then saw the previously noted caramel aroma grow stronger and a hint of honey emerge on the nose. In the mouth, the tea liquor presented notes of dark chocolate, malt, plum, burnt toast, caramel, and dark wood chased by a hint of honey on the swallow. Subsequent infusions saw new impressions of minerals, tobacco, black pepper, raisin, and cinnamon emerge alongside slightly more pronounced caramel notes and subtle impressions of orange zest and cedar. The final infusions offered lingering mineral, dark chocolate, dark wood, and malt notes balanced by subtler burnt toast and caramel flavors.

This was a nice black tea with great body and texture in the mouth. Also, the range of aromas and flavors it offered worked very well together. Nothing was shocking or out of place. Overall, this was an incredibly satisfying, well-constructed tea. It offered nothing new or all that unique for the style, yet it wound up being virtually impossible for me to fault much. Aside from me feeling that it perhaps started to fade just ever so slightly too soon, I cannot think of anything to really knock. Check this one out if you are a fan of Fujian black teas.

Flavors: Black Pepper, Burnt, Caramel, Cedar, Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, Dark Wood, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Orange Zest, Plum, Raisins, Toast, Tobacco

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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95

Going back to school is such a pain. I was looking forward to it so much, and now with classes starting Monday, I’m dreading it more and more. I also keep looking at my now barely manageable backlog of tea reviews and feel extreme trepidation with regard to the process of getting them all posted. I suppose I may as well start here since I have not reviewed a green tea in about a month. I think I finished a pouch of this tea back around the end of April or start of May. I can’t be sure at this point. I tend to love the Laoshan green teas Yunnan Sourcing offers, and no surprise, I loved this one. As a matter of fact, I am more than a bit shocked that this tea only has two prior reviews and that it’s reception to this point has been so mixed. In my opinion, this was an excellent green tea and a slight step up from its sister offering, the Laoshan Classic Green Tea from Shandong.

I prepared this tea gongfu style. After a quick rinse, I steeped 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 176 F water for 5 seconds. This infusion was followed by 14 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, and 3 minutes.

Prior to the rinse, I detected pleasant, fully-formed aromas of grass, soybean, seaweed, and roasted walnut. After the rinse, I found a stronger soybean scent and new aromas of toasted rice and spinach, though the latter was rather subtle. The first infusion then introduced scents of bamboo and sugarcane along with a hint of roasted chestnut. The tea liquor offered notes of soybean, grass, spinach, seaweed, and bamboo that soon faded to reveal impressions of sugarcane, toasted rice, and surprisingly enough, both honey and butter. Subsequent infusions revealed belatedly emerging impressions of roasted chestnut and roasted walnut as well as stronger sugarcane and honey notes. Squash blossom, umami, mineral, nectar, lettuce, and asparagus impressions emerged as well. The final infusions offered lingering mineral, grass, umami, and butter impressions underscored by hints of nectar, sugarcane, seaweed, and toasted rice.

Though this tea did not offer anything out of the ordinary for a Laoshan green tea, it was extremely enjoyable nonetheless. Compared to its aforementioned sister tea, it demonstrated a bit more smoothness and staying power while also displaying admirable depth and complexity for a tea of its type. I cannot fault this one much at all. It definitely made me want to try this year’s version, though I doubt I will be able to spend much more on tea this year. Definitely give Yunnan Sourcing’s Laoshan green teas a chance if you are at all interested in Shandong teas. I doubt they will disappoint.

Flavors: Asparagus, Bamboo, Butter, Chestnut, Grass, Honey, Lettuce, Mineral, Nectar, Seaweed, Soybean, Spinach, Squash Blossom, Sugarcane, Toasted Rice, Umami, Walnut

Preparation
6 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Bio

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.

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