458 Tasting Notes
Got a single coin bingcha of this one with my order, which showed up conveniently on Dec 23rd but I didn’t get a chance to open it until I returned home on the 24th. Perfect timing for Christmas
It’s weird how accurate ‘strawberry’ is to describing it. There’s a faint acidity rounded out by a sweetness at the roof of your mouth that fits ‘strawberry’ quite well. Maybe ‘candy apple’.
I’m not keeping to any stringent steeping, just haphazardly threw the entire thing in my gaiwan. It took a few steeps for the coin to open up, but it definitely did. Not finding anything hugely complex—but it’s sweet, honey and hay in the forefront, a very dried grass aroma followed by a light fruityness in the back.
The tea definitely lasts a while, more than I expected but the coin takes a while to open up.
Honey lingers between sips when you breath out, quite pleasant.
Dry, the smell is intensely fruity with a bit of spice, almost malt. Like baked fruit and cinnamon.
First steep—about 30 seconds—similar smell, heavy baked fruit like cherry pie. First sip, there’s a surprisingly floral note, that descends into mineral, cherry, plummyness.
Second steep—30 seconds. Honestly this should be called ‘Cherry Pie’. The smell is heavily cherry with this lightly floral, gardenia-like topnote. That probably comes from the oolong cultivar, but the other two samples I got also used that cultivar and I didn’t get quite the same note (although it could have been lost in the roast, in the Dong Ding).
Third steep—30 seconds, a bit of a sour note introduced, but not citrus, definitely still fits the cherry note I’m getting.
Fourth—onwards. Water started to cool… Not finding much variation between steeps, but the cherry/baked fruit taste coats the mouth. It sticks even with cooler water (since I keep mine in an insulated carafe near my desk).
Dry, the leaves smell of roast and caramel. Brewed, it’s roast and sweet citrus.
First steep, ten seconds, no rinse (impatience!) was pretty weak, but that’s expected—the leaves have barely opened up yet.
Second, 15 seconds: No fruit, but roast, mineral sweetness that sits at the back of your throat.
Third steep, 20 seconds—turned it a bit sour in subsequent sips, although the smell is a rich toasted caramel. Letting the liquor sit on your tongue brings that out, a sweet roast. Ruminating on the sour, it does come through as a note of citrus on the steep and then hits sour on the back of your tongue. It’s not unpleasant, but I know something one tries to avoid in a roasted oolong.
Fourth, 20 seconds. Will definitely up the times. There’s definitely aroma, although the liquor feels a bit thin to me.
Fifth, minute. Sweetness dissipated, mostly just subtle roast and a bit of a sour citrus note.
The leaves are full beautiful,, very in-tact, not much dust. Dry, the smell is very fragrant, sharply fruity. Brewing, the liquor smells fruity and sweet, a very typical Oriental Beauty profile with an extra undertone of spice—like sweet cinnamon.
Made in a gaiwan. 30 seconds first steep, no rinse, water allowed to cool from boil. First steep is clear honey, but not long-lasting on the nose, sort of watery, but the leaves likely haven’t fully opened yet. Faint fruit in the back of the throat.
Second steep, 30 seconds. Undernote of spice, but otherwise doesn’t fill the mouth—liquor is still a bit thin. May up the steeping to a minute. Smelling the lid, a thick, cinnamon-honey smell.
Third steep, 60 seconds. Cinnamon spice comes to the forefront. Still sweet, strong, but not long-lasting. Towards the end of the cup got a bit of bitterness.
Started playing a little more loosely with it at this point, given the hour. The fragrance is deep and sweet, but in general I didn’t find the flavour very lasting. Still very pleasant.
It’s been a while since I’ve sat down with this tea. First three steeps at 15 seconds. Very floral is my first impression (jasminy), it doesn’t coat the mouth like a heavier tea, the roast is very light, barely there, no puckering or sour notes although it does make me salivate. Having been working with apricot flavouring a lot recently, I realize I get notes of apricot in this; not as juicy as peach, more floral, more light. Not sour, a bit dry.
Fourth steep was 30ish seconds because I was having a conversation, whoops. Tea is noticeably harsher, astringent, but holds up well, floral and a bit like under-ripe sour fruits.
Leaving a breather after that, and I can taste that sort of dull apricot on my tongue as I exhale.
Flavors: Apricot, Floral, Jasmine
I’ve had this in my cupboard for a while. It’s a weird tea. It’s dark, intriguing, smooth, peaty and fermented like a weirdly fruity shu. The smell is like nothing I’ve ever really smelt in tea before—overripe fruit, maybe?
The tasting notes say ‘oak’ and I get what they mean by that; a drier black tea note, slightly bright, lingers on the back of the tongue. Honey not so much… Three is an overhanging sweetness, definitely more fruity. Not floral. Like the fruit notes of lapsang. Drop fruit? I’m not sure the term.
I gave this one a few steeps (~20-30 seconds) and later steeps felt thicker, raisin/juicy fruits with a subtle sour note. Thirdish steep the overripe fruit sensation was strong; sweet and wine/alcoholic almost when I breathed out. Slurping sort of brought about a more honeyed sensation; not quite floral. Warming.
Flavors: Alcohol, Fruity, Honey, Oak, Peat, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins
This’ one I’ve been coveting for a while, since the Urban Tea Merchant switched over to a ‘TWG Branded’ store. It came with a new lineup of employees, not the regulars I knew, and at first they didn’t have all of the teas in… Later I realized the main manager there just wasn’t fond of serving anyone who didn’t look ‘ritzy’ enough to make a reservation. Bluh. I tried a few times, but he couldn’t be bothered to check (I could physically see the tin labelled ‘Honey’). This time around I was the only one in the story, so got his attention long enough to grab this one (had an odd back-and-forth ‘Honey tea? No.’ ‘Oh, you’re sure?’ ‘Oh, honey tea, yes.’), but wasn’t able to inquire after anything else before being ushered to the till. Welp.
Anyhow—rant over, this smells STRONG, floral, like sweet pollen. The taste is more… waxy. Sweet, but not ‘sweetened’. I assume what honey MIGHT taste like if you stripped away the ‘sweet’. Sort of like… biting into a beeswax candle, almost. Waxy and floral. It’s different, and lives up to the weird hype I was building in my head in anticipation of trying it.
Not the weirdest tea I’ve tried from TWG… Honestly don’t know why more tea companies don’t carry a honey tea? I assume it must be a difficult flavour to source, and get right (I wonder how much like ‘honey’ this would taste with a sweetener added; an experiment to try, although I’m at that point where I straight up dislike sugar in my tea).
Edit: Forgot to add, very reminiscent of DavidsTea’s Wild Honey Matcha. Same flavouring? Feeling like I should buy some and try them together.
I haven’t really been active on Steepster… At all… In years, and I’d like to change that. Both to breathe new life into the site (with the current dwindling numbers), and because now I have a purpose. Mostly just to train myself to get better at describing teas and picking things out (I mean, that’s why most people are on steepster but I degress).
Full disclosure, I recently ended up working for Murchie’s as a tea-taster in their warehouse. So I won’t be rating any Murchie’s teas from here on out (not that I rate many teas on here anyway). I know, a weird sudden career-path switch, considering I graduated with a full degree in geology just last year and am an accredited Junior P. Geo. Maybe one of my own blends will show up on Steepster one day.
The main notes in this are smoke from the lapsang and an underlying vanilla sweetness; it’s definitely there in the smell, and does also come through in the taste, dialing back the smoke a bit. The rose has always been a bit elusive for me in this blend; coming through in the smell of the dry tea the most. I don’t get it much in the taste here. I think it’s drowned out by the smoke and vanilla this time around, but I did also burn my tongue a little bit today.
Flavors: Smoke, Vanilla
Smells sweet, borderline peppery, like—I don’t know, chocolate with a side of black pepper chips. The pepperyness manifests as a slightly tanic taste at first sip but then the rest settles out into that smooth sweetness I associate with a lot of Chinese blacks, and that sort of raw cocoa dryness I get with a lot of Yunnans.
Been steeping this one fast and loose in a 60ml gaiwan, ten-twenty seconds give or take.
Few steeps in the smell is more warm spice and vague citrus.
Well, it was about time I finished off these samples. I tend to stash samples of nice tea because I feel guilty if I don’t spend the “time” on them.
Mostly playing fast and loose with steeps; it’s sweet and leathery on the front of the tongue, aftertaste sort of like peat. Lingering sweetness when you breathe out.
Was brewing it a bit strong, but it mellowed with subsequent steeps; otherwise, I don’t tend to notice a big shift in profile.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Leather, Mushrooms, Peat