66 Tasting Notes
Dried apricots, lemon juice, the liquid from canned mandrin oranges. Minerals. Cured tangerine rind.
It doesn’t smell very impressive when it’s dry—just like a standard inexpensive Dan Cong, really—but wet the leaves with hot water and the aroma is an explosion of stone fruits. Dehydrated apricot, nectarine, peach pulp. A 5 second rinse tastes sweet and viscous with nectarine juice, and a 10 second steep is a delightful peachy hue with a heavy mandrin orange taste. Another 10 seconds and the sweetness morphs into the light tang of lemon juice. Step up to 15 and you get tangerine rind in the mix. A bit longer still, and the taste is eerily similar to a tangelo. Longer, and it’s orange and lemon droplets squeezed into a mineralic rock oolong. Go beyond that and you have a dry floral with a bite. It doesn’t even taste like tea until the 6th infusion. Not one of those “squint really hard after taking a sip and maybe you’ll find some flavor notes” teas. It genuinely tastes like citrus.
Haven’t been on Steepster in a bit, hauled around 1500 pounds of 4-inch electrical conduit into a ditch today and glued it together, my clothes are covered in dirt and sand, there’s concrete in my hair, and I still haven’t showered. However, this tea is so dang good that it reserved a rating right after finishing it. This is easily my new favorite and I’m going to covet my remaining 21 grams.
Flavors: Apricot, Lemon, Mineral, Nectar, Orange, Orange Blossom, Orange Zest, Peach, Tangy
Wow. This is a unique tea, especially for a jin jun mei. Following a laoshan black that tasted like burnt pumpkinseeds, the roasted aroma of this when it’s hot set off my fight or flight, but it’s far more pleasant than that smoky catastrophe. Neatly twisted leaves the color of wet bark; dark, cool-toned liquor, and an initially pungent scent that mellows to unsweetened chocolate.
This somehow tastes more like chocolate than black blends with added cocoa powder. The mellow, dark black tea and raw chocolate notes are so perfectly melded together. There’s some bitterness, but it’s definitely not tannic in origin. A hint of dark berries, a bit of raisin, but nothing that adds sweetness.
Really impressed with this one. You can coax out the fruit notes by cold brewing it or lean on the dark chocolate with water just off a boil. Very diverse and polished for a tea in its price range. I’m used to jin jun mei price tags being…. eyewatering, to say the least.
Flavors: Blackberry, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Raisins
I’ve finally built up my caffeine tolerance to the point where I can make two cups of black tea right before bed and still sleep like a baby. Yesss.
Had a sticky rice pu’erh brewed gong fu style followed by this brewed in a basket last night. The sticky rice was something of a death pact with a few friends who had the same sample and were too apprehensive to try it by themselves, and this purple was to wash down the aggressive umami straw and mushroom flavors. This particular tea is one of those that smell so good when they’re dry that you have to spend a few moments huffing the aroma like a junkie. If I had to put it into words, I’d say funky Yunnan black tea aged in an oak barrel with blackcurrants and grape skins and an exceptionally smoky Bourbon vanilla pod.
The finished brew doesn’t disappoint in the least. The dominant note is grape skin and it lasts long, long after you’re finished swallowing. We’re talking 15 minutes later and you can still vividly taste the tea on your tongue. Gently astringent and fruity. The heart of it is juicy with blackcurrants and dark berries, there’s a tobacco and vintage leather kick, some woody fruit stem notes, and all of that is built on a foundation of the musky raisin-y flavor of a subtly fermented Yunnan spring flush.
God, that aftertaste, though. It actually makes it hard to finish a cup if you’re not paying attention. It always tastes like you just had a sip. No need to absent-mindedly reach for more when there’s plenty of flavor still bouncing around on your taste buds.
Flavors: Black Currant, Blackberry, Cherry Wood, Grapes, Leather, Muscatel, Stems, Tobacco
This was a sample from Alistair, which is great, because I’ve always overlooked it. Wow. Sweet and fruity and toasty like a baked apple crisp with cinnamon on top. There’s some pear and cardamom in there somewhere. Big fan of this one so far, and I’ve only had it lukewarm a few hours after brewing it western-style. Gotta try this later in a gaiwan.
Flavors: Apple, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Pear
Thanks to gmathis for this sample and the lovely handmade card that came with it! Very fancy.
Been sitting on this for a couple weeks because I haven’t had the time to properly enjoy it, but it got cracked open today. The smell of the dry tea is delightful—strong and dark like European coffee with hints of bittersweet chocolate and Chinese black tea. Didn’t expect that to carry over to the actual taste, but it did! Sipping on this while I cleaned out all of my external aquarium filters made the whole process much more pleasant. Probably the best execution of a mocha tea that I’ve had so far.
Flavors: Cocoa, Coffee, Dark Bittersweet, Mocha, Smooth
Sipping a cup of this right now. Tried it on Friday and it didn’t taste like much, but then a conversation with a friend lead me to try it with 4-5 grams per 8 ounces of water instead of my usual 2-2.5 grams that I use for blacks and whites. Well, I feel like a fool now because there’s so much more flavor in my teacup.
The liquor smells like warmed clover honey, and it looks about the same. Toasted grains, hot almonds skins, and a dry vanilla are all present in the body. A bit juicy from an unidentified fruit. The aftertaste is sweet and buttery, like a less sticky version of the creamed butter/brown sugar mixture when you’re making cookies from scratch. It mellows down to a distinct floral note after a few moments; I want to say orchid. Lovely.
Flavors: Almond, Butter, Grain, Honey, Toasted Rice, Vanilla
For a moment there, I was running low on good loose leaf. Only had a few tins with more than 20 grams of the good stuff in them. Probably won’t see my pre-existing orders from Hatvala and YS for a couple more months, at this rate. Thanks to Whatcha and their weirdly fast shipping to US, I’ve got 100 grams of this and a few other quality teas to replenish my stash. You’re my hero in these trying times, Alistair.
This is a lovely tea for the price point. Softly sweet with hints of caramel and raw sugar, cherry notes in the body, and a pronounced cinnamon aftertaste. Red Buffalo is still my favorite red oolong with it’s heavier flavor and chocolate base, but the light character and simplicity of this makes it a better casual cup. Don’t have to worry about brewing it multiple times so you aren’t wasting the leaves, just throw them right into the compost bin after the first Western-style steep.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Cherry, Cinnamon
Two months of waffling around on this while trying to use up all 100 grams and now I’m head over heels for it. Thought I’d get bored after a few cups, but no, I have to stop myself from grabbing this when making tea for work because I’ve developed something of an addiction. It tastes like orchids and chocolate and honey and I can’t stay away. Never liked a tea enough to reorder 8.8 ounces of it, but here we are.
Flavors: Cherry Wood, Cocoa, Honey, Orchid
Jasmine tea has always been my mother’s favorite, so I got a bag of this with the intention of splitting it with her. She indiscriminately drinks Twinings jasmine green, Stash jasmine green, and whatever nice jasmine dragon pearls she has on hand with the water at a full rolling boil and the steeping time usually around 30 minutes to an hour. Then it gets heated back to temperature in the microwave. It’s almost physically painful to watch her make good tea that way, but that’s the way she likes it, so I try not to mind.
Well, she ended up liking this about as much as she likes her Stash 1 pound bags of hastily made and very crumbly jasmine green, so I’ve taken this back for myself. It’s a beautiful tea all-around, with dried jasmine blossoms nestled in big velvety tips, a delicately pungent aroma—the intensity rivals a jasmine perfume—and a sweet, pale liquor that balances the fragile silver needle flavor with the heavy floral taste. One of those teas that makes you stop and enjoy the moment whenever you take a sip.
I’ve tried it both hot and cold, but cold brewing has been my favorite so far. Hot jasmine teas tend to coax out that bubblegum note a bit more than cold ones. You know what I mean? It’s a lovely flavor, but too much of it becomes soapy and artificial-tasting.
I’ve had a big, chilled glass thermos of this nearly every day for the past week and I’m still not tired of it. Absolutely lovely if you want a fine jasmine tea but don’t want to mess with the current shipping delays on packages coming from abroad. Probably won’t see my Yunnan Sourcing Spring 2020 teas until late July or August, but that’s alright, because Tea Trekker has been scratching my itch in the mean time.
Flavors: Floral, Jasmine, Sweet
Came across this company in my search for more Nepal blacks that aren’t pretending to be Darjeelings.
Definitely got this one for the name. The leaves are nicely rolled into oblong shapes, a dark wiry raisin hue with golden patches. They smell earthy, like an aged tea, with a touch of that classic toasted oolong scent.
Brewed, they smell perturbing. I think “hot wet yeti” is an apt descriptor. If you let it cool down a bit, it starts to smell like a heavily oxidized oolong. First steep has that same forest floor earthiness of raw pu’erh, which is odd, since this is a recent harvest without any signs of aging. Not unpleasant, though! Hints of leaf litter and mild mushrooms.
On the second, longer steep, it tasted more like a full-bodied oolong. A bit tannic, a bit toasty. Some dry stone fruit notes. Probably meant to be steeped longer than what I originally did so those two different flavor palettes run together into a more polished one. Overall, it’s an interesting tea.
Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Forest Floor, Mushrooms, Toasty, Wet Earth