312 Tasting Notes

82

I’ve only tried ginseng oolong once before, when I received it as a sample in an ebay order. But during that tea session my husband tried it and instantly fell in love with it’s unique aroma. Maybe it is because we live in Canada, but we really have not been exposed to the ginseng flavour before. So our first encounter with it was full of exotic charm.

So I was delighted to see that Teavivre was selling ginseng oolong. I have been wanting to place an order for more of their teas lately, and this one got added to our latest one. (As a note, I am also receiving some samples in the future. Like always, I mention in tasting notes whenever I am reviewing free samples)

Moving onto drinking the stuff;

The first steep is good, not too overwhelming. Nice sweet almost licorice-like flavour from the ginseng hits the roof of my mouth and the back of my throat. What I can taste of the oolong base is nice, subtle.

Second steep is still quite nice, I like the extra short steeps to get just hints of ginseng in each cup. It has a powerful effect on me, so I’d rather not steep it all out in one long brew. And with each of these short steeps, I get a bolder ginseng flavour at the back of my throat. Which is a nice sensation. :)

Third steep continued to get more intense, and looking inside the gaiwan the leaves have yet to completely unfurl.

Fourth to sixth steeps had consistent flavour. I’ll end my tasting note here even though I will be resteeping this throughout the day.

To be honest, I did not have high expectations with this tea. I’m not sure how you could screw up oolong + ginseng. Although now that I say that I am sure there are bad examples out there!
Anyway, I quite liked Teavivre’s ginseng oolong and I’m sure my husband will be delighted to take this to work.

100ml gaiwan, 1 generous tsp, 6+ steeps (rinse, short steeps starting at 3s-ish and increasing slightly)

Preparation
Boiling

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84

Today I received my Teavivre order (yes this is a paid purchase) and I couldn’t wait to tear into their Lapsang Souchong pouch! This type was the first loose leaf tea that got me into the world of tea. So perhaps my expectations for each new encounter are a bit high.

Sniffing inside the bag, the dry leaves smell very smoky.

At this point I wasn’t sure how to prepare the tea, but I thought that if the smoke was too powerful I should short steep it.

So I scooped out 2 tsp of leaves and put it in my gaiwan, then adding the hot water at the suggested 90 c. temperature. Sniffing the tea liquor as it brewed, the scent of smoke is still pretty powerful.

However my fears were washed away when I took my first sip. It’s woodsy, slightly smoky, earthy, very slightly sweet and has a velvety mouth feel. The aftertaste is lighter version of the aroma with the addition of cocoa notes, it’s also not tarry in anyway.

Second steep felt really good in my mouth. The tea leaves are not fuzzy, but still there is a velvety texture that fills mouth. I’m also getting more sweet/cocoa notes in the second cup.

Third steep still tastes great and isn’t bland. Getting more of the smoky aroma now, and less sweet flavours. I could keep steeping but I’m done drinking smoke for now. (Just getting the feeling that if I stretch out the resteeps it might rub me the wrong way.)

I am always a bit worried when I try a new Lapsang Souchong tea. Either they’re good, amazing, or emotionally scarring. ;)
This LS from Teavivre is pretty good, but you’ll either love or hate this type of tea. Even the best LS I’ve tried won’t please everyone because of the smoky aroma. So for anyone wanting to try LS for the first time I recommend a sample size. And as a tip, if you don’t like LS western style… please try it short steeped! I am a big fan of short steeping all black teas, and I feel that this type of tea can benefit from it greatly.

100ml gaiwan, 2tsp, 3 steeps (rinse, 30s, 45s, 1m)
I will try this western style sometime in the future, maybe at work.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C

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87

I’ve had this tea for a while now, but I never took the time to write about it until now. It’s one of those teas that you can easily lose yourself in.

First steep: Smells sweet, tastes sweet too! The liquor is a touch floral, and sweet; almost like the sweetness of caramel. It has a mouth watering juiciness and flavour that reminds me of fruit.

Second steep: I’m noticing more of the texture the liquor leaves in the back of my mouth. The description mentions marzipan which I think is dead on. I can definitely taste that in the smooth texture and flavour.

Third steep: All of the flavours are coming together nicely. It’s usually at about this point where I lose myself in the flavours and look down to see that my cup is empty. ;)

Fourth steep: This cup really struck me as juicy and sweet, but not too sweet. I really dislike teas that are WAY too sweet, but this one is just right. (If you’re curious, I find Bai Lin black tea and Oriental Beauty oolong too sweet sometimes)

Fifth steep: Liquor is getting a bit less floral and the spices are coming out more.

Sixth steep: Both the tea and I are feeling pretty mellow at this point. I could keep resteeping but I’m pretty satisfied ending here.

One thing I really love about Taiwanese oolong, is that your attention to detail pays off. Relaxing and taking time to enjoy each sip brings out such beautiful flavours. Sometimes when I just want my tea fix, I’ll brew up some cheap black tea western style. But when I have the time for it, I like to reward my senses with tea like this.

Not my favourite oolong from this vendor, but it still exceeded my expectations.

100ml purion teapot, 1 1/2 tsp, 6 steeps (rinse, 45s, 45s, 1m, 1m30s, 2m, 2m30s)

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C

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84
drank Mei Zang by Tao Tea Leaf
312 tasting notes

This is the other black tea I purchased recently from TTL.

Onto the tasting notes;

First steep: Goes down very smooth, slightly nutty, smoky, malty, bit of cinnamon, velvety liquor texture.

Second steep: More bite, still otherwise smooth and flavourful.

Third steep: Much the same, not too strong or weak. Pleasant and relaxing tea.

This tastes like it has a lot in common with Qimen black tea, and is even made in the same province. However it’s much gentler on my taste buds than typical Qimen tea. Which is generally why I don’t like Qimen, it has a distinct taste that I find somewhat off-putting. But I don’t have that problem with Mei Zang at all. I can’t recommend this tea to anyone that wants an out of this world experience, but it’s worth checking out if you like “Qimen types”.

100ml of water in a purion teapot, 2 tsp, 3 steeps (rinse, 45s, 1m, 1m15s)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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85
drank Xiang Xun Dan Lu by Tao Tea Leaf
312 tasting notes

Picked this up a while ago when I was in Toronto. The Tao Tea Leaf store is quite nice, they carry a lot of beautiful tea ware. There are a lot of places to buy tea in Toronto.. I’m sure there are a lot of stores I don’t even know about, but this particular place caught my eye because they mainly sell premium teas (not mainly just flavoured ones).

Now onto my tasting note:

I’ve short steeped this tea a few times now, and in general it reminds me of a few other black teas with similar profiles (Zhao Bai Jian, Laoshan Black Tea). Earthy, floral, malty, hint of chocolate and sweetness. Sophisticated and easy on the palate. I really enjoy how the floral notes never get too bold, there is just a nice hint of it. And out of the other teas with similar profiles, I prefer this one because of that mild floral aroma.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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85

See previous tasting notes for my thoughts on this tea’s flavour profile

Hmm, I take back what I said about this not being a good resteeper. I just had to scale down the short steeps by A LOT. When I short steep black tea I usually start at 30s or 45s, but these leaves infuse very quickly. Hime Fuki is also quite potent, I only needed 1tsp for short steeping in a 100ml tea vessel. I’ve tried adding more leaves previously and it was too bitter.

Overall not one of my favourite black teas, but still an enjoyable purchase. It shares a lot in common with Qimen black tea, but I prefer the flavour of Hime Fuki over that type. Generally I’m not a big fan of Qimen types though, and that is probably why this tea is not one of my top favourites.

100ml purion teapot, 1tsp, 6 steeps (3s, +3s resteeps)
(The built in filter the purion teapot had was very useful here. If you use a gaiwan you’ll need a strainer because the Hime Fuki leaves are small and broken)

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C

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80

Still my favourite “cheap” ($5/50g) LS.

Had a good experience short steeping this today, got up to 9 steeps. I was a bit surprised because the tea is comprised of broken leaves and I don’t always get performance out of those. It tasted very smooth, smoky, woody, and buttery throughout all the steeps.

On a final note I’d just like to mention that I usually love LS, so I’m not sure I would recommend this to those that dislike smoky teas. It is definitely not nasty and tarry, but I’ve also tried better (and more expensive) “authentic” LS.

100ml purion teapot, 2 tsp, 9 steeps (3s, +3s resteeps)
edit: if anyone’s curious, the smoky flavour didn’t stay in the purion after a quick rinse for my next tea

Preparation
Boiling
The DJBooth

That sounds awesome I think I’ll have to add this one to my shopping list.

Dorothy

It’s a pretty standard LS if you like that sort of thing.

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84
drank Da Hong Pao by Camellia Sinensis
312 tasting notes

I bought this just to see what’s so special about Da Hong Pao. There are a lot of sources for this type of tea, but I chose Camellia Sinensis because they never disappoint me and I like supporting Canadian businesses (plus the tea arrives quickly). Now onto the tasting note:

First steep: Roasted, floral, very smooth, kinda sweet.

Second steep: Sweeter, roasted flavour is nice and not too strong, has a soft floral aroma.

Third steep: More balanced, the liquor leaves a pleasant sweet and roasted flavour at the back of my throat.

Taking a break to sniff the gaiwan, the wet leaves have a very charming scent. I like how the roasted characteristics never become too overpowering.

Fourth steep: Much of the same characteristics are present, still quite smooth/creamy with a soft floral/fruity aroma.

Fifth steep: Seems a bit lighter and zesty. This cup made me think of mango and honey dew melon.

Sixth steep: More sweetness and fruit than roasted flavour.

Next time I’ll try with a longer initial steep and more leaves.

Sometimes I see that other teas are compared to Da Hong Pao, and I can kinda see why now, but I don’t find those comparisons very helpful. I’d rather people mentioned specific characteristics or flavour, like “sweet and roasted”. Overall a wonderful tea, but some of the hype around it tainted my experience. I’ll have to try some more Da Hong Pao teas in the future.

100ml gaiwan, 2 tsp, 6 steeps (10s, 20s, 30s, 45s, 1min, 1m20s)

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C

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85

I’ve never tried “gaba” teas before, so I was quite happy to see this tea sample included in my order of Zealong Black tea.

In the first steep I’m tasting candied fruit, roasted oolong, and a green veg-like flavour. Quite smooth and soft on my palate. The liquor is a somewhat dark amber colour.

Subsequent steeps became bolder in flavour but still maintained a good balance. I like how the later steeps tasted of candied golden raisins and cantaloupe melon. The seventh steep even brought out some cinnamon notes. There is some astringency but just enough to keep the body from seeming too dull.

Very happy I had a chance to try this once. Not sure if I’d buy this for the health benefits, but the flavour is unique and memorable. Getting the impression this vendor has great taste in tea. :)

200ml glass teapot, 2 tsp, 8 steeps (rinse, 40s, +10s resteeps)

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C

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85

Last time I brewed this western style once at 3 minutes, now I’m going to short steep it.

The liquor of the first steep felt really silky in my mouth. This short steep brought out some new flavours: floral, cinnamon, and the now familiar malt and barley flavours from my first tea session.

Second cup is very similar to the first, except the grape flavour really starts to come out here. Nothing really tastes out of place, and the floral notes are not strong enough to rub me the wrong way. The tea body and liquor colour are very light, with still no trace of bitterness or much astringency (much like my first experience with this tea).

Third cup left a nice sweetness at the back of my throat, but the flavours seem to be weakening.

Drinking on from the fourth to sixth steeps, the tea flavour continued to fade but the grape notes still built up in my mouth.

I tried extending the steep times a bit on the last two cups, but it was still really to light for my tastes. If I try this again I’ll probably do 3tsp of leaves, since 2tsp didn’t really fill up the gaiwan too much anyway.

Overall it reminds me of a few other black teas I’ve tried, but the grape flavour (reminds me of grape jam) makes this tea very unique and memorable. It didn’t turn out to be a great resteeper for me, so I’ll probably be drinking this western style in the future.

100ml gaiwan, 2tsp, (45s, 1min, 1m15s, 1m30s, 1m50s, 2m10s)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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Bio

Feel free to add me on Steepster, I’ll probably add you back. :)

I don’t log tea every time I drink it. Tasting notes tend to be about either one style of brewing or a new experience. It is helpful for me to look back on my notes and see what a tea tasted like or which steeping parameter worked best for me. I try to mostly short steep tea unless it only tastes better with a long steep. I’d rather experience what a tea tastes like over 3 or 12 steeps than just 1 to 3 long steeps.

When I write “tsp”, the measurement I use is a regular western teaspoon. Not a tea scoop

What my tea ratings mean:

99-100: Teas that blow my mind! An unforgettable experience. Savoured to the last drop. I felt privileged to drink this.

90-98: Extraordinary, highly recommended, try it and you won’t be disappointed (and if you are, mail me the tea!)

85-89: Wonderful, couldn’t expect more but not a favourite.

80-84: Excellent, a treasured experience but not a favourite.

70-79: Good but could be better. Above average.

60-69: Average, unexceptional, not something I would buy again. Slightly disappointed. I’d rather drink water.

50-0: Varying degrees of sadness

No rating: Mixed feelings, can’t decide whether I like it or not, not enough experience with that sort of tea to rate it. A dramatic change of heart.

Location

Ontario, Canada

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