9 Tasting Notes
On the surface, this particular dan cong oolong doesn’t seem all that remarkable. It doesn’t have a spectacular tropical or floral aroma, or the fascinating bitter qualities of a nice yashixiang or juduozai. I really, really like it though.
It’s just… nice. Thick, warm, mellow and sweet, a perfect dan cong for winter.
It’s still unmistakably a dan cong though; there’s quite a bit of bitterness and some astringency in there, but it’s much more gentle in those characteristics than most others. It passes the “mom/tea newbie test”, I’ve tested it (everyone likes this tea).
The tropical fruit flavors aren’t as bright and clearly defined as in some other dan cong (“peach! mango! lichi!”), but they’re obviously there. At center stage however is thick honey sweetness, sugarcane, hay and a perfectly balanced touch of charcoal that’s the cherry on the cake. I’m usually not a big fan of charcoal, but it really ties everything together here. In some steeps I also noticed ripe, sweet orange and peach.
At its best gong fu style, but western and grampa steeping works too. I experimented a bit, and this also turned out surprisingly well: 250ml glass teapot, 4g tea, steeped overnight in room temperature water. Served in little cups or glasses it’s perfect with a chocolate dessert.
At ~€0.30/g it’s not exactly what I would consider cheap tea but I honestly think you get quite a bit of value for your money. Good dan cong just isn’t cheap and this is a pretty good dan cong. It’s also currently the most affordable one they sell on Wuyi Origin.
The following might be relevant for people with a sensitive stomach (like me): I love dan congs, my stomach does not. This one seems to be fine though.
Flavors: Alcohol, Hay, Honey, Smoke, Sugarcane, Tropical
A simple (unsmoked) lapsang souchong, done well.
This lapsang doesn’t feature a lot of fancy fruity or floral accents, but instead focuses entirely on that characteristic base lapsang souchong flavor.
Taste is strong but balanced. The bitterness in particular is very pleasant, balanced by subtle sweet notes and a hint of refreshing citrus and cardamom on top. Earlier steeps are dark and comfortable with notes of hay and beans, later steeps get lighter and show a bit of plum.
Some astringency is always present but it stays in the background.
I really enjoyed this one gong fu style. The leaves pack a punch, in one session I did 14 steeps and could’ve gotten a few more out of it. Western style steeping tends to make a more boring, one note brew in my experience, so it doesn’t seem like very versatile tea.
The price is very fair I think, one of the cheaper teas on WuyiOrigin. If you like lapsang souchong, I would recommend it.
Flavors: Beany, Cardamom, Citrus, Honey, Plums, Wood
I’m not usually a fan of smokey teas but wanted to compare this one to White2Tea’s other lapsang souchongs.
The smoke/pine is always present but not overwhelming (for me) like some cheaper smoked lapsangs I’ve had. For me the most interesting part of this tea sits behind the smoke. It actually has a really nice, full and surprisingly sweet aftertaste. It’s rather warming with a thick texture, slight notes of caramel and butter. The smokey bits still aren’t my thing to be honest, but I’m enjoying this tea a lot more than I expected, specifically when brewed gong fu style with a lot of leaf.
It’s not a tea I’ll buy more of but I’m definitely not going to have trouble finishing my sample.
Flavors: Butter, Caramel, Cinnamon, Grain, Pine, Smoke
I got a sample of all of the W2T lapsangs to compare. This is an interesting one.
“strawberry” is surprisingly accurate, though it’s subtle. The taste reminds me specifically of the aftertaste of freshly picked strawberries — a taste I’ve not encountered in tea before. Definitely don’t go in expecting bold candy-like strawberry-ness though.
My sample had a noticeable amount of sticks and yellow leaves among the leaves, but those clearly don’t hamper the taste. The best session I’ve had with this tea so far was gong fu with quite a lot of leaf. In a (for me more usual) 5~6g/100ml gong fu session I mostly noticed the aforementioned strawberry notes (along more typical lapsang flavors), but adding more leaf brought out an impressive aroma of tropical fruits and orange zest, and later steeps had notes of blueberry and dates I hadn’t noticed before. A very nice thick texture too, though not as “luxurious” as the Fruit Bomb Lapsang.
When brewed western style I thought it was a bit unremarkable. Not bad, but definitely not at its best.
This might actually be my favorite of the 2020 White2Tea lapsang souchongs.
Flavors: Blueberry, Citrus, Dates, Orange Zest, Strawberry
The tea’s store description says “If you are looking for a daily black tea […] you won’t find a better black tea in this price tier.”. A rather bold claim… which I’m actually inclined to agree with, to my own surprise, now that I’ve tasted it. I personally haven’t had a €0,10/g black tea with this few “rough edges” in any case. It punches far above its weight.
I haven’t yet had the opportunity to try out a “real” (read: very expensive) jinjunmei, but I do have experience with a jinjunmei that was about 4 times the price, which White2Tea’s Daily JJM compares very favorably to, and with a lot of black teas in the affordable €0,05-0,15/g price bracket.
Very prominent and very sweet (flower) honey flavor, sugarcane, milk chocolate, hay, slight citrus. A pleasant, subtle bitterness if you brew it right. Less astringency than pretty much any black tea I can recall in the <€0,20/g price range. Works great grandpa style, and very decent in a gong fu session (though flavors stay pretty consistent). Will definitely get bitter if you overbrew it, but in a dark chocolate way some (..like me) might still enjoy.
It’s just a nice tea overall. Most importantly, it’s a tea that would be nice even if it wasn’t this cheap.
Flavors: Chocolate, Citrus, Honey, Milk, Sugarcane
The name is surprisingly accurate: it’s spectacularly fuity.
Classic lapsang body but with a thick texture and an extraordinarily rich upper range of fruitiness. The leaves themselves already smell incredible.
Taste: bitterness at the bottom, typical black tea acidity and buttery, smooth fruit flavor above. Wonderful aroma. I got peach and refreshing citrus notes, but also some carrot sweetness and apple. Very little astringency until later steeps.
I enjoy it most slightly cooled down (but not too much). “straight from the gaiwan” the bitterness can steal some of the spotlight of the fruit.
Works well gong fu, western style and everything in between.
An extraordinary tea definitely worth its price.
If it hadn’t sold out so quickly I would’ve gotten more than a 25g sample. I’m now saving half of it for special occasions and am crossing all of my fingers and toes they get a new batch soon.
Flavors: Apple, Carrot, Fruity, Orange, Peach, Rose
(for the 2019 version)
Prominent jasmine flavor, as you’d hope. Nice sweetness. Noticeable astringency but not unpleasant. Oolong makes a good base for jasmine teas as they don’t tend to develop the aggressive sharpness you can get with green teas. This one’s nearly impossible to oversteep. I made a big pot (grandpa style, set and forget) for the family at Christmas last year and everyone enjoyed it.
Still, while this jasmine oolong is on average one of the better jasmine teas I’ve had, it doesn’t seem to reach the same heights as some green jasmine teas when you’ve managed to brew them just right. In my personal experience that’s a very rare occurence though (and maybe I just haven’t found the right parameters for this one yet!).
If you’re looking for a “convenient” jasmine tea, one where you don’t have to fuss too much about brewing temperature and steep times, this might be a good option. It’s pretty well priced too.
(I did notice the jasmine aroma fading over the time I finished my 50g sample so good, dry, airtight storage seems to be extra important — or finish all of it while it’s still fresh, of course.)
Flavors: Honey, Jasmine
A sweet oolong with a clear but very well balanced charcoal taste that’s extremely forgiving to brew.
Well priced too, after tasting a sample I immediately bought a bigger bag (bigger than I usually do).
Taste: honey sweetness, smoke, little bit of grape in the aftertaste. Nice full texture. Astringency is noticeable but not distracting.
I wouldn’t call it a particularly interesting tea, but more of a nice, comfy, “daily drinker”-type. 90% of the time I end up brewing it grandpa-style (just leaves in a big cup), and it’s perfect for that. Unless you really over-leaf it, the taste doesn’t get too strong. Doesn’t even matter if you forget your cup, it’s still tasty when cooled down.
Flavors: Honey, Smoke, White Grapes
People really seem to love this one, so after reading the reviews I eagerly bought a sample, but unfortunately, for the price, I’m not that impressed with it.
It’s certainly an interesting tea. You can surprisingly clearly taste the pu-erh origins, in addition to the more traditional flavors of a chinese black.
The young sheng-like bitterness (and the tiniest bit of sour) provides an interesting complementary bottom layer to malt and sweet sugarcane flavors. Smoke is immediately noticeable but not overwhelming. In the later steeps of a gongfu session suddenly a hint of blueberries appeared, which was a nice surprise. Astringency stays very low throughout, making it a very comfortable drink. The leaves last a long time: I did 10 steeps in a gaiwan and left it overnight in a lidded mug (which turned out excellent), and I think I could’ve gotten even more out of them.
I didn’t find the taste to be particularly complex though. Everything’s relatively upfront. It does very succesfully combine flavors from both raw pu-erh and black tea, but mostly the standard ones from either category. Nothing that would make either stand out. I’m missing some higher notes.
Another tea this one reminded me of is WuyiOrigin’s 2007 aged lapsang souchong. The very mellowed pine smoke there functions in a similar way as the pu-erh material does here, providing a deep bitter, sour, earthy bottom layer and a hint of smoke. Fans of this tea might want to give that one a try as well.
Arbor Red’s a good tea, no doubt. It’s original, very relaxing, and it has the balance of a premium tea, but you’re also paying a bit extra for the novelty.
I just wish it was a little bit more somehow. I was ready to get blown away, but my socks have remained firmly on my feet.
Flavors: Malt, Smoke, Sugarcane