579 Tasting Notes

91

I’ve never been a fan of genmaicha but then this tea came along and changed everything. This is a warm and toasty tea with a smooth buttery body that reminds me of popcorn. The liqueur is a beautiful emerald green thanks to the matcha. It’s not burnt or bitter tasting, a problem I’ve had with genmaicha in the past. Changing the way I steep is part of the reason why I’ve come to enjoy it more now.

Most directions tell you to brew genmaicha at hotter temperature than usual for green tea, around 185 F. Personally, I find genmaicha bitter if steeped higher than 175. The best results with this tea came when I steeped it unlidded at 170 for 1 minute. This results in a pleasant nuttiness without the harsh roasted taste and no astringency. I feel the matcha helps take the edge off the roast and gives it a fuller body.

This is a comforting tea to drink for those cold winter days and makes a fabulous iced tea in the summer.

Flavors: Popcorn, Toasty

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML
Zennenn

Gosh, popcorn flavors sounds great in a genmaicha.

LuckyMe

Low temp steeping is key to turning genmaicha from burnt rice to popcorn :-)

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85
drank Ta Oolong by Tea From Vietnam
579 tasting notes

Picked up this tea during the Black Friday sale. This is a nice jade oolong that’s similar to many Taiwanese high mountain teas. It’s sweet, a little tart, and lightly floral. After experimenting with steeping parameters, I found the best results came from a high leaf to water ratio, short infusions, and lower temperature about 185-195. It’s prone to bitterness if oversteeped or too hot water is used.

I got eight good infusions following the gongfu instructions on Tea from Vietnam’s site, and it still had a lot left to give. The tea is somewhat light bodied and while it does have a floral background, it wasn’t as flowery as I had hoped. There are subtle notes of lily floating in the aroma and finish, but it’s not a flower bomb like say a TGY or shui xian. I noticed the picking date on the package was January 2015. Perhaps some of that floral goodness had faded by the time I got my hands on it 11 months later?

Overall, a pretty darn good if not stellar tea that’s worth trying if oolong is your thing.

Flavors: Creamy, Flowers, Sweet

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 120 OZ / 3548 ML
Zennenn

It’s more comforting than flashy, isn’t it?

LuckyMe

Definitely, it’s my go-to after meal tea these days

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92

Every tea goes through what I call a break in period. This is where you experiment with water, temperature, steep time, and leaf quantity to find the optimal brewing parameters for the tea. In my experience, green teas are more finicky than other kinds of tea. Finally hitting that elusive sweet spot is one of the greatest thrills of green tea for me. The downside though is by the time you’ve figured out how to steep it, your stash is almost gone.

This one took me quite a few tries, but I was rewarded with a marvelous cup of tea. It’s sweet and crisp without the typical grassiness found in most green teas. It has a light body with a flavor resembling white tea. The wiry dry leaves smell of seaweed, although that doesn’t come through in the liquor. The wet leaf smells floral and has a rich aroma of fresh spring vegetables.

I tried brewing it many different ways (grandpa style, test tube, cold steeped, etc.) and found it tasted best in a plain old gaiwan, steeped at the standard 175 F with the lid closed.

First infusion is smooth, crisp, and refreshing. Tastes like a bouquet of spring vegetables.
Second infusion is sweet and clean tasting. Some of the nuances of the 1st infusion are lost but still very delicious.
Third steeping was for 90s. The needle like leaves opened fully and the tea broth became lighter and had a flavor reminiscent of sweet mountain spring water.
Fourth steeping. Upped both the time and temperature to 2minutes at 180 F. Much lighter, maybe I should have steeped longer? Still, it had a lot of flavor and evoked crisp salad greens and snow peas.
Fifth steep was for a long 3 minutes. At this point the tea was done, enjoyable but flat.

I was pretty impressed by the quality of this tea. After Dragonwell this is my favorite of all the green teas I’ve had from Teavivre so far. It resembled Verdant’s Laoshan Pine Needle tea a lot, both in its physical appearance and taste. A great tea for when you want something fresh tasting but that’s not too grassy or vegetal.

Flavors: Lettuce, Mineral, Sweet

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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86

UPDATE – tried this today with almost double the quantity of leaf I normally use and lower water temperature. Got 4 great infusions out of it with no astringency. The first infusion straight up tasted like gyokuro, full of rich umami flavor. I steeped it at 155 F for 45s. The second steeping was a quick one, 30s at about 165 F. Much fuller, matcha like strong vegetal flavor. There is the slightest hint of bitterness as it goes down, but not unpleasantly so. The third steeping, 45s @ same temperature, was like regular sencha. Grassy and sweet. The tea went flat on the 4th steeping. It had a light, brothy character. Still good, but not as memorable as the earlier infusions.

Upping my rating as this tea continues to impress me and is a regular in my green tea rotation.

Flavors: Grass, Seaweed, Umami

Preparation
155 °F / 68 °C 0 min, 45 sec 2 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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91

My search for the perfect wuyi oolong may finally be over, at least for now! I’d been savoring my sample from WP for a while now and immediately ordered some during the Black Friday sale because this tea is just that good.

This is a very smooth and pleasant tasting tea. No harshness or ashy taste like wuyi oolongs often have. The roasting here is exceptionally smooth. The tea has a sweet rock flavor and a clean mineral finish. Notes of burnt sugar can be detected in later steeps.

A warm, comforting tea that’s perfect for chilly winter days.

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Mineral, Roasted, Sweet, Wet Rocks

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

Got a sample of this with my last Verdant order.

So far all of the Laoshan greens I’ve tried have been outstanding and this one was no exception. The unique needle like leaves are a little hard to measure out, but I reckon I used roughly two teaspoons or enough to cover the bottom of the gaiwan. This tea brews up mellow and sweet with a nice vegetal flavor reminiscent of fresh lettuce. The wet leaf has a faint aroma of seaweed and soy. The flavor really pops with the second steeping. The vegetal flavors become brighter and more nuanced. This steep is invigorating in its freshness and crisp, clean taste and is my favorite by far. Third steep and the tea transitions to a a stronger vegetal taste yet still remains sweet. Flavor starts to fade in later steepings although it’s still very drinkable.

If I had to choose between this and the regular Autumn Harvest Laoshan, the Laoshan Pine Needle wins by a hair. I enjoyed the sweeter, more complex vegetal character of this tea.

Flavors: Lettuce, Peas, Soybean, Sweet

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML
Equusfell

Dang! That sounds good, and I was on the fence about getting it with my last order. I decided against it and now I’m kicking myself!

LuckyMe

I would have gotten it too, except it went up on their website right after I placed my order :-(

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88

This is a delicious oolong for when you’re in the mood for something light and sweet. The dry and wet leaf are intoxicatingly floral. The flavor of the tea itself is reminiscent of TGY minus the heavy body.

First Steep: Opens with a bursty of fruity, honeysuckle-like sweetness then becomes vegetal with a touch of seaweed as it goes down
Second Steep: Sweet and grassy. The floral notes open up, full of gardenia and lilac.
Third Steep: The fruit and florals begin to fade a bit and the tea takes on a more vegetal character
Fourth Steep: Flavor is still there, but noticeably flatter
Fifth Steep: Mostly vegetal with a tiny mineral hint to remind you this is an oolong
Sixth Steep: All of the flavor has been wringed out by now

This tea is quite versatile with brewing. I’ve had good success brewing it gongfu, grandpa style, and western style. Unless you’re doing gongfu, I recommend drinking individual steeps as the nuances of the tea seemed to be lost when steeps were combined.

The only negative is the price is a bit much at $11 for 25g. Not a good value for the money.

Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Grass, Melon, Seaweed, Sugarcane

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 2 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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92

I have to say Laoshan greens are beginning to rival TGY as my favorite teas from Verdant. I was blown away by the spring harvest and waited with great anticipation for my autumn order to arrive.

I steeped a scant teaspoon of leaves in a 4 oz gaiwan at 165 F for 1 minute with the lid off. This is my usual method for brewing Chinese green teas. I feel lower temperatures bring out more of the sweetness of green tea and less of the swampy/brothy flavor it can sometimes have.

The flavor of the tea is marvelous. Creamy soymilk, fresh, very clean and crisp from start to finish. There is a nutty undertone that I can’t quite put my finger on. Verdant describes it as oats and wild rice but to me it evokes the flavor of coriander or sesame seeds. The mouthfeel is dry and extremely smooth. I was struck by the distinct soymilk flavor which I haven’t encountered before with other green teas. It dominates the early steeps before transitioning to a more vegetal taste.

Compared to last spring’s tea, this one is more on the savory side. Spring laoshan was sweeter and full of bright spring vegetables. I preferred the spring picking but the autumn is a wonderful tea in its own right. It gets you a lot more mileage. It keeps going strong for several steepings and perfect for grandpa brewing.

Flavors: Coriander Seed, Milk, Soybean

Preparation
165 °F / 73 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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86

Ok, I’m issuing a retraction: this tea isn’t bad once you adjust the quantity of leaf. Like with most dark oolongs, I couldn’t drink a full on brew and had to use 1/3 of the amount of tea leaves I usually do.

It tasted a lot better this time around. The earthy notes are softer and sweeter and I can actually pick up some of the fruitiness that is strikingly similar to dried plum. I get notes of honey and caramel/burnt sugar in later steepings which are quite delicious.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from it, but I’m happy to have found a way to make GABA oolong work for me. The relaxation effect is for real and I and I can tell this will become my go-to nighttime tea and insomnia cure.

Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Fruity, Honey, Plum

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Rasseru

ah thats great. Like i said before ive got a gabalong which is so nicely honey & caramel, but expensive. Ive wanted to try others for a while, nice you have got it working

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83

I spent my entire stash trying to figure out a way to brew this tea without bitterness and on my last cup I finally got it. Very brief steeps mixed together bring out the depth that was missing. The tea somehow became brighter and cleaner and the strong vegetalness faded. A very enjoyable oolong tea indeed!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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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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