147 Tasting Notes

99
drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
147 tasting notes

This sure brings back memories. It basically got me through two or three years of final exams. I stocked up on a ton of it back then and still have a bit left over, but unfortunately either my tastes have changed, my storage wasn’t great (I was just getting into pu’er and didn’t have much of a storage system back then), the water I use now is different (I’ve noticed some differences in flavour of other teas since I moved apartments), or a combination of the above.

It still tastes pretty good. The chocolate/raisiny favours really come out when hot and there’s a light cottony dryness to it, but it’s not as vibrant as I remember it being. It tastes much flatter when cooled down, so maybe it’s best if I wait until after summer to drink this.

Looking through some of my past tea notes, I realise my preferences have gone from light and fruity teas (and many flavoured teas) to light and floral teas (with still some flavoured teas) to darker teas like shu and roasted oolongs and malty blacks (fewer flavoured teas) to predominantly shu (but pickier than before), young and middle aged sheng (can’t really afford anything truly aged since I don’t want to risk anything that precious with my unsettled life and therefore likely unstable long-term storage), dark/roasted oolongs, and black teas. It was only three years ago I thought my tastes would stay relatively stable.

Even now, while I’ve stayed in the last set of shu/sheng/roasted oolong/black preferences for some time, my tastes have changed. I’ve gone from preferring sweet, floral, and delicate shengs to ones with a bit more of a pleasantly bitter edge and some camphor/apricot/smokey notes with a lasting aftertaste. A lot of the shus I enjoyed earlier on in my shu exploration phase leaned towards chocolatey and/or coffeelike— now I prefer ones that are slightly fruity and sweet, and pay more attention to the aftertaste. Even my black tea preferences have shifted a little from Fujian/Assam/SF/Autumn Darjeeling to Yunnan/Taiwan/Assam/less Darjeeling (though the shift in Darjeeling may be due to shifting more funds towards pu’er). I’m pretty sure my oolong preferences have remained relatively unchanged after shifting from green/unroasted to dark/roasted, so I guess I was sort of right there.

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95
drank The Black Lotus by Butiki Teas
147 tasting notes

I’ve only got two or three cups left with this tea. :(

Caught a really strong whiff of the dry leaf aroma as I was opening up the tin I’d stored this in and it instantly transported me back to days of endless reading and writing and homework and running to class. This, Butiki’s Irish Breakfast, and Mandala’s Special Dark were staples of my mornings and late nights in college.

Anyway, this tea. I love it. It’s very comforting. I will miss it dearly when I run out.

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It’s been a while since I’ve had this one.

It’s a bit more sour than last I remembered— I recall previously tasting something fruity, like persimmons, with a sweet smokiness in the aftertaste. It seems about the same now, except with a hint of sourness/tartness and a slightly thinner mouthfeel. I don’t know if it’s because it’s allergy season and my tastebuds are unhappy or if it’s the result of a year and a half of poor storage on my end— my shu setup is much worse than my sheng since I only have one minifridge/hygrometer (used for the sheng, which seems to be going along reasonably well) so it’s been sitting alongside a small dish of water in a giant plastic storage box that I occasionally pull the lid off for several hours to allow for some ventilation and airflow. I’ll have to check some of the older shus I have in there later. Hopefully I figure out what’s going on.

Cwyn

Your storage might be fine, and in fact woke up the tea to continue fermenting those fruity lighter leaves. Older CNNP shou is rather coveted and in fact has an excellent reputation. Maybe just needs more storage from the drier Kunming years.

Ag

That’s what I’m hoping. I have the laziest pu’er storage system ever, just a sturdy weatherproof plastic storage box, a bit of water or a well wrung paper towel for occasional moisture (mostly during arid winters), and semiregular airing during humid summer months. I tried out another (slightly older and I think more fermented) shu from the box that I’ve also had for about a year and it seems to have stayed relatively stable, which I think is a good sign.

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Found a sealed sample of this sitting in my tea trunk. Purchase records indicate I bought it about 9 months ago.

Brewed a small (I forgot to record how many grams) amount in a 150 ml gaiwan, 208F water.

Steep 1, 5 seconds: Rich roastiness, hint of sweetness. Light, smooth aftertaste
Steep 2, 5 seconds: Roastiness starts giving way to a bit of nuttiness. Sweetness still there. Aftertaste becomes more prominent and sweet.
Steep 3, 10 seconds: Roast still present but now more nutty with some floral notes. Smooth, sweet aftertaste that lingers for a short period of time.

The roast fades away increasingly with each steep as the aftertaste becomes stronger. There’s a light dryness to the aftertaste that’s quickly followed by some sweetness on the sides of the tongue. I was worried that the floral would become more apparent (I’m not a huge fan of florals) but it’s just been lurking quietly in the background providing some support to the roast (that’s starting to taste a little mineral) and nuttiness.

While not my favourite Muzha (the aftertaste is a little weaker than the ones I’ve had previously, though I’ve admittedly only tried a few), this is the only one that’s still available for purchase (the others I loved have long been sold out).

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Received as a free sample from Angel at Teavivre. Thanks!

Tastes roast-y, wheat-y, and a little sweet. The aroma while brewing is mouthwatering and had I known that the tea was edible after steeping, I’d have eaten it.

Like what the other review mentioned, it’s a great evening tea, especially for anyone who’s caffeine-sensitive. The roastiness is very soothing and the touch of sweetness is refreshing after dinner.

Flavors: Roasted, Wheat

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99

Pulled my cake of this out today to see how it’s doing. My storage conditions aren’t really that great (it gets really dry in the winter especially). I wound up picking off about three times more than I intended so I thought I’d try tasting it side by side in my yixing and gaiwan. 10 second rinse, 15 second steeps.

Flavour wise, this seems to be relatively similar to how I last remembered it— slightly smokey, lightly astringent. The stonefruit is still there but it’s more melded with the rest of the flavours. I guess my “throw it in the [unplugged] minifridge and hope it doesn’t get too dry in there” method doesn’t seem to be hurting the tea too much at the very least.

Interestingly, the smoke is more prominent in the gaiwan than the yixing but I get a stronger/sweeter aftertaste from the yixing. I don’t remember the aftertaste being there before. I should probably use my yixings more often though.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Cwyn

I have a couple of these, should see how they are coming along myself.

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drank 1994 Aged Bai Hao by Butiki Teas
147 tasting notes

I fished a nearly-empty 1/2 oz bag of this from the bottom of one of my boxes of tea yesterday. I’ll be sad to see it go, but at this point I have far too much tea for someone in my current situation (still working out life details/strongly considering getting a terminal degree and therefore need a considerable amount of flexibility/mobility since it’ll be a while before I settle down somewhere permanently— having, uh, 10+ kilograms of tea doesn’t really help with the mobility) so I’m trying to let go of my hoarding tendencies and just drink things without worrying that I’ll miss it or whatever it is that makes me want to hoard tea.

Honestly, the main note I’m getting from this in these early steeps is something like raisins and dates. It’s a little dry in the aftertaste. I’m really not getting any hints of cocoa or chocolate, but then again the water I’m using is considerably cooler than what I’d normally use— waiting for my water heater to boil so I’m using the hot water in my thermos at the moment. Will update if the flavour changes in future steeps with hot water.

This is surprisingly more energising than I expected. I was going after a comfort tea when I went tea-box-diving. I might have to revisit the boxes once I’m finished with this.

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99
drank Premium Taiwanese Assam by Butiki Teas
147 tasting notes

Still delicious and flavourful. The fruitiness faded a little, but I think there’s a darker/nuttier edge to it that I didn’t notice before.

Man, I really miss Butiki. I’ve still got a small pile of their flavoured teas to finish up (whoops). I should probably stop hoarding those.

I should probably try and find a replacement Taiwanese Assam for when I finish this up…

adagio breeze

I suspect most of Butiki’s Taiwanese offerings were from Taiwan Tea Crafts. They have a few Assams on their site.

Ag

I thought that might be a possibility but the samples I tried from them seemed to be different from Butiki’s the last time I had them (which was over a year and a half ago at this point). They may have been from different harvests or batches or whatever though. I’ll have to revisit them at some point.

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drank Pumpkin Irish Cream by Butiki Teas
147 tasting notes

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Whoops, it’s been a while since I’ve logged anything. I’ve been rather busy as of late what with bumbling through the Real World with this job thing and bills and insurance and whatnot. When I found out I was eligible for a retirement investment plan thing I went full on into “I have no idea what I’m doing” mode for a good week or so until I (hopefully) figured out what to do with that.

Anyway, I think I’m slowly getting the hang of this…

In the meantime, I’ve mostly been sipping on some old favourites and didn’t get around to writing notes of new teas I’ve had as of late. Fortunately I still have some left for most of them so I can revisit and take notes when I can.

I rinsed this one once for 5 seconds and somewhat absentmindledly drank it by accident.

Now I’m on steep 2 or 3. Or maybe 4. I can’t remember which because my hands are on autopilot since my brain yells “MORE” every time it notices the cup is empty. It’s really starting to open up (in flavour and the ball unfurling) at this point though, which makes me think I’m on steep 4.

One orb that I forgot to weigh, 150 ml gaiwan that I tend to underfill. 5-10 second steeps.

Smooth and silky mouthfeel. There’s an edge of vegetal tartness/bitterness to it that complements the hint of floral sweetness and juciness I’m getting. The aftertaste (huigan? ugh I’ve forgotten a lot of terms as well) is quite prominent. Sweet sugarcane, I think? Man, I’ve got to work on identifying flavours better.

It’s been a while since I’ve been properly tea drunk but I think this can easily get me there. I’m feeling pretty tea buzzed right now. I’m feeling surprisingly alert and energetic (a little bouncy) yet calm at the moment.

It’s almost midnight so I don’t know if I’ll steep this to the end tonight or set it aside to dry and then work on it in the morning but there’s still a lot left in this tiny orb!

(Steep #x + 1 : so soothing. Aftertaste keeps getting sweeter and sweeter. I’m taking longer pauses between each sip to just enjoy the aftertaste. Also I’m surprisingly calm/content now considering I was feeling pretty down all day today. Tea is great.)

Ag

2.5 hours later and I’m definitely tea drunk. Of the calm yet bouncy kind.

Ag

The morning after:
Steep #x + 4 or 5
a) this is still going pretty strong.
b) huigan makes me think I’ve eaten some candies.
c) still smooth, flavour has veered a little more vegetal but the sweetness is still there. I think at this point I’m mostly paying attention to the huigan. I’m kind of in love with the huigan.
d) guys, I think I’m tea drunk again.

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Profile

Bio

I have far too many interests. Tea is one of them.

Background in bioethics, medical anthropology, and evolutionary biology with aspirations of eventually going into a medical field. I also have strong interests in theater, computer science, and food (which shouldn’t be particularly surprising).

Brewing
Brewing method is usually Western style for black teas (2-3 minutes at near-boiling), “grandpa style” for shu pu’ers and longjing, and gongfu (with a gaiwan) short steeps for sheng and shu pu’ers (two 5-second rinses, then 5, 10, 15-second steeps with a gradual increase in steep times to taste). The gaiwan is also used for oolongs though I sometimes use a brew basket if the gaiwan is occupied and I’m taking a break from pu’er.

Preferences
I enjoy black teas, pu’er, and oolongs (leaning towards aged, cliff/Wuyi, or roasted/dark), depending on my mood. I don’t usually drink green tea but do enjoy a cup every so often.

Ratings
My rating methods have changed over time and as a result, they’re very inconsistent. For the most part, as of 11 November 2014, unless a tea is exceptional in some way (either good or bad), I will refrain from leaving a numerical rating.

The final iteration of my rating system before I stopped (note: I never did get around to re-calibrating most of my older notes):
99 & 100: I will go to almost any lengths to keep this stocked in my cupboard.
90-98: I’m willing to or already do frequently repurchase this when my stock runs low.
80-89: I enjoy this tea, and I may be inclined to get more of it once I run out.
70-79: While this is a good tea, I don’t plan on having it in constant supply in my tea stash.
50-69: This might still be a good tea, but I wouldn’t get it myself.
40-49: Just tolerable enough for me to finish the cup, but I don’t think I’ll be trying it again any time soon.
Below 40: Noping the heck out of this cup/pot.

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