570 Tasting Notes
An interesting experimental batch from TTC. This is a scented tea made using local Taiwanese Bergamot instead of the familiar Italian variety found in Earl Grey tea. Tasting it, however, I can say there’s a world of difference between the two. Real bergamot has a distinct perfumey flavor. Even though it’s a citrus fruit, bergamot flavored tea isn’t very citrusy. This on the other hand is more citrus forward and would not be mistaken for bergamot. Smells and tastes like juicy tangerine and citrus rind. Occasionally, it gives impressions of lemon scented kitchen cleaner and Hi-C. When ambient brewed, the bergamot mingles with the underlying Jin Xuan to produce delicious rose and gardenia florals.
I think this would appeal to people seeking a citrusy or orange scented tea but doubt it will win over too many Earl Grey afficionados.
Flavors: Citrus, Lemon Zest, Orange, Tangerine
Another budget Yuuki-Cha tea. This time it’s gyokuro which is normally considered a premium tea. However, this unique variant is processed like bancha consisting of leaves and stems. I’m not a huge fan of gyokuro as I find it too umami heavy for my taste but went for it here as it looked super interesting and the price was good too.
The smell out of the bag is a mixture of umami, nori seaweed, and flowers in a grassy meadow. I’m still working out the brew times and temperatures, but I generally start between 135 – 150 F and gradually increase the temperature 5-10 degrees per infusion for a total of 4 steeps. The first steep produces a fatty, umami laden cup with a texture reminiscent of animal fat. Trust me, it tastes better than my description. It has a slight edge that tiptoes around bitterness without ever becoming bitter. Pale green liquor that smells like brussel sprouts and earth.
Second infusion brings out a subtle earthiness, wheatgrass, and cabbage. Third infusion is 160-165 F and has a more familiar sencha-like flavor. Light wheatgrass, matcha-like creaminess, and straw. Fourth and final steep is mellow and rather washed out.
Overall, an enjoyable Gyokuro with a rich flavor and complexity beyond just umami. It doesn’t resteep as well as pricier teas but acceptable given the style and price point.
Instagram photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CTiC14orvVd/
Flavors: Butter, Grass, Lettuce, Straw, Umami
Did a big Yuuki-Cha order last month and this is one of their budget senchas that I picked up. For the price point, it’s not a bad tea. Grassy, medium bodied, with a gentle astringency. Nice fresh flavor and color. It has a familiar Japanese green tea flavor but lacks the complexity of better sencha. A solid tea for the office.
Flavors: Astringent, Freshly Cut Grass, Umami
Didn’t enjoy this one as much as the regular Wenshan Baozhong from the same harvest. This is a rather basic, one dimensional baozhong. Floral/lilac overtones, medium body, and a vegetative brothy flavor. No real depth to it though and taste doesn’t evolve much either.
Flavors: Floral, Grass, Lilac, Perfume, Strawberry, Vegetable Broth
This could have been a good tea if it weren’t so hibiscus heavy. It’s my fault though for not realizing the roselle listed in the ingredients is the same as hibiscus. The dried fruit pieces in this blend – mango, grape, papaya, pineapple, etc. – smelled wonderful and sounded like a promising combination but were completely overwhelmed by all of the hibiscus. It ended up tasting like a slightly sour fruit punch. Couldn’t really taste any of the other ingredients. Adding sweetener, something I am normally loathe to do, helped balance the flavor a bit and brought out some of the underlying citrus and grape.
Flavors: Fruit Punch, Sour
There’s a reason why this is my favorite high mountain oolong. It’s a sublime and refined tea that’s been consistently good year after year. This latest crop was no exception. It has those lush florals I love. Big hits of magnolia, orchid, and lily of the valley. This is balanced with tropical fruit, vanilla, and pastry cream. Full bodied with a silky texture and lingering floral finish. It also has good staying power. I got 7 quality steeps from it.
About a month after opening the pouch, I noticed there was a noticeable degradation in flavor. Not in a bad way but the tea had lost some of its nuance and tasted more vegetal and savory. Switching from gongfu to grandpa style helped rescue the tea. This brought out a whole new character and tropical flavor that I hadn’t experienced with gongfu.
Instagram photo: https://www.instagram.com/p/CSASh1PLmzP/
Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Nectar, Orchid, Pastries, Pineapple, Tropical, Vanilla
I struggled with this one a lot. Couldn’t coax out the flavor I wanted despite multiple efforts at brewing it. Brisk and vegetal with a nutty green bean taste. Borders on astringent at times but doesn’t become bitter. The nuttiness becomes dominant as it steeps and it also presents toasted grain and fried vegetables along the way instead of the more subtle grass and water chestnut notes in the aroma.
Not the best dragonwell I’ve ever had but certainly not the worst either. It’s possible that something was lost due to the shipment delay.
Flavors: Nutty, Vegetal
Tai Ping Hou Kui is one of those teas that instantly catches the eye because of how stunning it looks but unfortunately, doesn’t have much to offer once you get to know it. Admittedly, I’ve been beguiled more than once by it. The extra long, flat green blades are a sight to behold but they don’t offer much flavor wise. Savory and vegetal with pronounced umami notes. Cold brewing amps ups the umami. It also brings out more briney and marine flavors. I tasted seaweed salad, sockeye salmon, and a bit of gyokuro like meatiness. Not my cuppa tea, that’s for sure.
Flavors: Marine, Savory, Umami
Bought this tea on a whim during my recent visit to Calgary, Alberta Canada. I love bringing back tea souvenirs from my vacations. Also picked up a nifty little yunomi teacup from a really cool Japanese chain there called Oomomo.
The first thing to note about this tea is the smell. It is incredibly potent. Even without opening the bag, you can smell the watermelon candy from a mile away. The dry leaves, interspersed with pink ribbons (flowers?) and dried citrus rind, are quite beautiful to look at. Aroma is reminiscent of watermelon, Jolly Rancher candy, root beer, and soda. I had to double bag it because it was making my entire tea drawer smell like watermelon.
Ambient brewed the tea for a little over 2 hours and then served over ice. I was worried it might be too overpowering but the flavor was surprisingly balanced for such a strong scented tea. Juicy watermelon with a hard candy sweetness and hint of bubblegum flavor. Citrusy finish. The watermelon flavoring is pretty natural and not artificial or cloying. Pretty much nails the flavor it was going for.
Flavors: Bubblegum, Candy, Citrus, Watermelon
Meh, this was a pretty basic green with a generic flavor. Sweet flowery aroma similar to another Teavivre green, Tian Mu Yun Wu. However it tastes like a bowl of green beans. Hot or cold steeped, there’s nothing really memorable about this tea. Will use the rest in my stash for blending but don’t care to have it straight.
Flavors: Flowers, Green Beans