301 Tasting Notes

93

2013 Taiwanese Wild Mountain Black

I’ve wanted to taste this tea for some time but it has been out of stock until the new summer harvest arrived. Well it’s back in stock and today I received my order (early delivery because I won the Birthday contest with this tea as the prize – lucky, lucky me). I rushed right to the kitchen to open the box and make my first cup.

These leaves are gorgeous! They are delicate, very dark, long and lightly twisted (almost black with flecks of amber on a few of them). The smell of the dry leaf seems a little earthy but also fruity – not terribly strong but just enough to entice you.

I followed the brewing instructions given to me by Stacy – gongfu brewing; 1.5 tsp per 8 oz for a sweeter tea. As the leaves began to unfurl the aroma was fabulous and the liquor became a light reddish brown – almost a rusty color. The mouthfeel is very, very smooth with absolutely no astringency. My first impression is that this tea seems subtle but very complex. The flavor is definitely sweet and honey-like with both caramel and dark chocolate overtones coming through yet it is also fruity and malty. With later sips, as the tea cools, I begin to pick up a sweet bread and molasses flavor.

Before sending my tea, Stacy described the difference between this year’s harvest and that from last year: “Due to the rain situation in Taiwan, the leaf hoppers weren’t as active this year so there are less honey notes. Last year was more of a croissant and honey taste this year is more of a waffles and powdered sugar. The tea comes across a bit more which I like. It’s different but not by much.”

Place your order – this tea is a must try! I’m off to try my second infusion……

Preparation
Boiling
Sil

Shhhhhhh don’t tell everyone!

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90

One of the things I enjoy most about my tea journey is discovering new teas. I had just such an experience today when I had my first mug of Butiki’s Watermelon Xylophone. I followed the website instructions for brewing. Pale, pale green tea soup with a pleasant, subtle aroma and a lightly flavored sweet taste. I then added a touch of sugar and, as promised, the liquid turned into warm watermelon juice. All in all, a delightful experience! I plan to brew again today and chill to enjoy cold “watermelon juice” this evening.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 30 sec

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93

This has been a lovely Mandala Tea weekend for me- Black Pearls (one of my new favorites) on Saturday and Noble Mark on Sunday. Doesn’t get much better than that when it comes to enjoying fine tea.

The dry leaf has an earthy aroma just as one would expect from a pu’er. One large tablespoon (after two very quick rinses) in 8oz boiling water for 30sec for round one; round 2 for 45sec; then combined in my 16 oz Zojirushi travel mug. Infusions 3 and 4 (1 min each) were just as enjoyable a few hours later. The tea has an appealing combination of flavors – chocolate, fruit and a little cream yet a bit earthy as a pu’er usually is.

This pu’er is delightful – silky, smooth and solid texture with slightly sweet aftertaste; a dark reddish brown color; and good for multiple enjoyable steeps. It left me wanting more so what could be better in a pu experience?

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec
Terri HarpLady

Love me some Mandala teas!

DigniTea

I definitely agree and his new three cake special is on the way to me right now with my requested sample of the Wild Monk.

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92
drank Black Pearl by Mandala Tea
301 tasting notes

First of all, I always look for the fun factor in my tea experiences. These brown and gold pearls are fun to watch in the hot water – I love watching tea in action as it unfurls during the first infusion.

Yesterday morning I steeped four of Mandala’s Black Pearls in 8oz of boiling water and immediately resteeped because I drink my morning tea in a 16 oz Zojirushi travel mug. The flavor is fantastic – chocolate and malt with a slight straw note. I love this tea! I’ve had it several times and I always enjoy four 8oz infusions with the initial four pearls (although infusions 3&4 are not nearly as flavorful but enjoyable nonetheless). Without question, this tea is currently one of my top five teas.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec
Terri HarpLady

As far as pearls go, this one is on top for me so far. I still have a few more to try, & I tend to love them all, but I especially love this one.

DigniTea

This is the only one I’ve tried but I just received the Teavivre black pearls ordered during their recent sale. Haven’t opened those yet because I have lots of teas already open and needing to be enjoyed before I start in on new ones.

Sil

teavivre pearls are fantastic as well!

Terri HarpLady

I can’t wait to try them!

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84

This is delicious iced! The aroma of the dry blend is a bit off-putting but after steeping in the fridge for 24 hours both the aroma and the taste are magnificent – lemon and cream with no rooibos flavor detected. One packet of Splenda added and it’s ready to serve. My guests love it!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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93

If you enjoy Chinese black teas, you must try this one! Open the packet and inhale deeply – hay, cocoa, malt , maybe a little fruit. Smells delicious.

I used less than boiling water, as suggested by Teavivre in their brewing instructions – 2 tsp in 8 oz of water. Flavorful for 4 steeps (1m, 2m, 2.5m, 3m). The tea soup is a rich brown and it tastes fantastic. I cannot wait to serve this to guests. I’ll definitely be keeping this one on hand!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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90

It is a pleasure to work with Teavivre – their tea is delicious and the customer service is just as good. Today I am enjoying their Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong. The thick creamy taste is superb. Hard to believe that this rich creamy flavor is natural but it definitely is.

The liquor is a medium gold with a slight vanilla cream aroma. Both the flavor and the mouthfeel suggest sweetened condensed milk. I prepared this according to instructions provided by Teavivre for an 8oz cup Using my test tube steeper, I watched the leaves unfurl and expand and was able to enjoy four flavorful infusions (1m, 2m, 3m, 4m). I was delighted to discover that the flavor had staying power throughout the process.

This is one rich, delicious brew. Certainly one I plan to keep on hand and enjoy regularly.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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90

I am enjoying Teavivre’s Spring 2013 harvest and have taken advantage of their 2nd anniversary sale. The speed with which they deliver their tea is very impressive.

So I have finally tasted the highly regarded Bailin. Though a milder black tea flavor than I prefer, this tea is most enjoyable! The flavor is rich and gentle with a definite sweetness. While the smell of the dry leaf is definitely mild, the aroma of the liquid is strong and very pleasant.

It produces a dark copper brew. The taste is woodsy, sweet, and fruity all in one. Brewed below boiling (I used 190 degree water) and there is no bitterness at all. Added 1 minute to each 8oz infusion (1m, 2m, 3m, 4m).

If you’ve not had the opportunity to try this tea, do yourself a favor and give it a try!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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89

This tea is just plain fun! I enjoy tea – all types (with only a few exceptions). However, when there is a special fun factor involved, I enjoy it even more. This Monkey King is just such a tea.

I had heard about Monkey King from a former Chinese exchange student in one of the courses I taught a few years ago. He said that I would definitely enjoy it. I never forgot that recommendation and I’ve been on the lookout for the tea.

I recently placed an order through an eBay tea shop based in Shenzhen (Royal Tea Bay). By the way, I would recommend this direct source for tea from China – shipping cost is included in their tea prices and my order arrived at my front door just 7 days after placing it online. I was delighted to discover that they had a new Spring 2013 harvest of Tai Ping Hou Kui (Monkey King Green Tea) and I had to order it. My order arrived late yesterday and I was quite excited to try it early this morning.

I am in love with this tea – the whole experience! First of all, be prepared to be blown away by the size of the leaf - 4" to 4.25". Beautiful thin, whole, flat leaves with lovely shades of green coloring in each. They are very delicate and paper thin like tissue paper. The aroma of the dry leaf is slight but pleasant.

The recommendation for brewing this tea is to use a clear glass with 175 – 180 degree water. I decided to try it in my 16oz Chinese glass tumbler with filter for drinking. I was unsure of the leaf amount so I started with 22 long leaves added after pouring the heated water. It was a pleasure to watch these tall soldiers stand at full attention in the water. The tea aroma was vegetal and sweet and was a very pale yellowish-green color. The flavor is sweet with clear vegetal overtones and I was able to detect a little citrus.

As I finished half of the liquid in the glass tumbler, I added more hot water. This continued over a three hour period using the original 22 leaves, adding more and more water, and it was only at the very end that I detected a slight astringency.

This tea is fantastic and this was a wonderful tea experience. I’ll definitely reorder. Teavivre has a Spring 2013 Tai Ping Hou Kui Green and that will probably be my next Monkey King tasting.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C

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80

Refreshing tea. I drank this iced and it hit the spot. Blend of black and green leaf makes it interesting. The cinnamon and sugar in the blend make it pleasant to drink – subtle enough to make a nice accent to the light blueberry flavor. The brew offers a very nice aroma. Overall, I enjoyed this tea iced and wonder what it would taste like hot.

Preparation
Iced

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Bio

For me, tea is magical with its ability to transform by bringing one back to center and inspiring both peace and contentment.

Reformed coffee drinker. Switched to tea as part of my goal to work on living a healthier, more balanced life — haven’t looked back since. I enjoy most tea types but I cannot handle jasmine or other florals and I’m not particularly fond of bergamot. Moved quickly into unflavored blacks and puerhs and seldom drink anything else. Now most of my purchases are puerh cakes for aging.

I no longer assign numerical ratings to teas because our enjoyment of tea is very subjective. Reactions to a particular tea vary from person to person and within the same person across different tasting sessions. My tea notes are now simply comments reflecting my impression at that specific point in time. They are useful to me and if they happen to be helpful to someone else that is good.

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