583 Tasting Notes

75

Backlog.

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

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C

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87
drank Watermelon Bubblegum by T Kettle
583 tasting notes

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

Preparation
Iced 2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
gmathis

I don’t remember reading very many favorable reviews of anything with watermelon in it—sounds like your whim was a winner!

LuckyMe

@gmathis You’re right most watermelon flavored tea isn’t great. They did a good job with this blend.

Mastress Alita

This sounds like one I would love carbonating.

ashmanra

Frasier Tea has good watermelon oolong!

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80

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

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 240 ML

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75

My first time trying an autumn picked sencha. I didn’t even know this was a thing. Gotta hand it to Obubu Tea Farms for such an eclectic selection.

The appearance of the leaves is one of the strangest I’ve ever seen in Japanese green tea. It’s a mixture of twigs, stems, and flat yellow and green blade like leaves that sort of resemble a broken dragonwell. The leaves emit a strong seaweed aroma. Once heated, this turns into kelp and popcorn.

The brewed tea produces a light green, clear infusion. Gentle toasted nori and sakura flavor. Slight umami. Very smooth. Subsequent steeps bring out brothy notes along with more seaweed. It remains smooth and full bodied without any bitterness.

This sample is quite a few months old by now. Curious as to how it would have tasted at peak freshness.

Thanks for another interesting sample Cameron B

Flavors: Sakura, Seaweed, Vegetable Broth

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 4 OZ / 117 ML

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96

My spring greens from Teavivre arrived at last after being stuck in customs for nearly 60 days. I was worried about the delay affecting freshness but if this Anji Bai Cha is any indication, they seem to have held up pretty well.

Upon opening the pouch, I was greeted with a potent aroma of freshly mowed grass, straw, and green beans. I steeped just under 2g in an 8 oz glass, grandpa style. Super delicious. Notes of warm grass and fresh spring vegetables. Thick with gentle chestnut and a green pea like sweetness. Clean tasting and has a light and airy quality to it despite being full bodied. Just a wonderful tea all around and well worth the wait!

Instagram photo: https://bit.ly/3feLfXN

Flavors: Chestnut, Freshly Cut Grass, Green Beans, Straw, Vegetables

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 g 4 OZ / 131 ML
gmathis

That sounds nice and summery!

LuckyMe

@gmathis Indeed, tastes like a basket of veggies from the farmers market :-D

ashmanra

Anji Bai Cha is soooooo good.

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97

Thank you Cameron for this sample.

Made the best iced hojicha of my life using this tea! I cold brewed 2g for 16 hours or so. What resulted was an incredibly delicious, refreshing iced tea. Super smooth, luxurious texture with caramel notes and a deep raisin sweetness. Ambient brew wasn’t quite as amazing as the cold brew though. It was a little murkier and had oily mouthfeel.

As an unroasted green tea fanatic, I’m usually not big on hojicha. But with teas like this, it won’t be long before I’m pulled to the dark side.

Flavors: Caramel, Raisins, Tobacco

Preparation
2 g 8 OZ / 251 ML
gmathis

What a lovely description!

Cameron B.

Come to the dark side! ;)

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91

This year’s Laoshan green is once again a stellar tea. It’s sweet and savory with an interesting interplay of soy milk, honey, toasted grain, and fennel. Deliciously creamy and nutty with mild vegetal tones. Enjoyed this a lot more than the pricier Laoshan Reserve Bilochun.

Flavors: Fennel, Grain, Honey, Nutty, Rice, Soybean

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 240 ML

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92

This was a sample I got through last year’s Lupicia group buy. It came in one of those silky pyramid shaped tea bags. I don’t like the idea of plastics in hot water so I cut open the teabag and dumped half of the 4g of leaves in a brew basket. The leaves had a wonderful floral-woodsy aroma.

Steeped it for 2 minutes in an 8oz teacup using water on the cooler side, 187 F, for the 1st infusion. The brewed tea had a gentle woodsy, roasted aroma. Pleasantly smooth flavor reminiscent of butternut squash with a light maltiness. Upped the temperature to 195 F for the next infusion and doubled the brewing time. The tea had a very nice fruitiness this time and an almost grape-like flavor.

Lupia describes this tea as green, fresh, and spring breeze like. To me that sounds like a green tea or light oolong, something I’d never mistake it for. Darjeelings are often described as floral but I’ve honestly never tasted any such qualities in any darjeeling tea I’ve had. To me, it tasted like a lighter, slightly fruity black tea with woody tones. More autumnal than spring to me.

Flavors: Butternut Squash, Grapes, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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98

After a string of subpar Baozhongs recently, this spring’s harvest has once again restored my faith in this tea. It’s deliciously fresh and teeming with complex florals.

As I always do with baozhongs, I brewed this one grandpa style. The leaves emit a very fragrant aroma of hyacinth, lilac, and violet. The tea has an exquisite floral flavor. At first sip, I’m greeted by sweet lilacs followed by granny smith apple and lingering flower nectar. Fresh. Mouth coating. Really smooth and luscious.

When my cup got down to 1/3, I topped it off with boiling water. This dropped all of the leaves and produced a brighter green color. New floral notes of orchid appeared in my cup along with melon and sweet pea making the tea more luscious and perfumey.

Enjoyed this one immensely!

Flavors: Flowers, Green Apple, Lilac, Melon, Orchid, Peas

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 g 6 OZ / 179 ML
tea-sipper

Great to hear the new harvest of Wenshan is so good!

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82

Spring 2021

There are some teas that are phenomenal the first time you try them but then are never able to recapture the same magic. Such is the case with this tea. I was over the moon excited when I first tried it some 5 years ago and have been ordering it every year since then. But for whatever reason, it’s always felt lackluster. Last year, I struggled to finish my stash. This year’s crop unfortunately didn’t fare any better.

Initial steep is colorless and bland. When the flavor comes through, it’s fennel heavy with the usual Laoshan soybean taste and some honey. Notes of raw zucchini, spice, and dandelion along the way. There’s a lack of freshness and depth to the tea.

After two sessions, I’ve relegated it to my stash of less loved teas that are used for blending and cold brewing only. This year’s regular Laoshan green is far better. Not likely to repurchase in the future.

Flavors: Dandelion, Fennel Seed, Honey, Soybean

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Bio

My Rating Criteria:

95 to 100: Top shelf stuff. Loved this tea and highly recommend it

90 to 94: Excellent. Enjoyed this tea and would likely repurchase

80 to 89: Good but not great. I liked it though it may be lacking in some aspects. I’ll finish it but probably won’t buy again

70 to 79: Average at best. Not terrible but wouldn’t willingly drink again

60 to 69: Sub-par. Low quality tea, barely palatable

59 and below: Bleh

Fell into tea many years ago and for a long time my experience was limited to Japanese greens and flavored Teavana teas. My tea epiphany happened when I discovered jade oolongs. That was my gateway drug to the world of high quality tea and teaware.

For the most part, I drink straight tea but do appreciate a good flavored tea on occasion. I love fresh green and floral flavors and as such, green tea and Taiwanese oolongs will always have a place in my cupboard. After avoiding black tea forever, Chinese blacks have started to grow on me. I’m less enthusiastic about puerh though. I also enjoy white tea and tisanes but reach for them less frequently.

Other non-tea interests include: cooking, reading, nature, philosophy, MMA, traveling when I can, and of course putzing around on the interwebs.

IG: https://www.instagram.com/melucky

Location

Chicago

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