59 Tasting Notes
I am a big fan of keemun tea, and consider the smoky character to be a key aspect of the tea. However, the smoke so dominates this tea that I can’t really enjoy it.
The aroma is very smoky: to the point of making me think about Lapsam Souchong. All I can smell is the smoke. The taste and finish are likewise dominated by the smoke, making the tea one-dimensional, though the complex character of keemun is what normally draws me to the tea.
Once I get over my initial impression, I can just enjoy the raw power of the tea. As I said, I do like a smoky tea. I also discovered that the second steep was in many ways better than the first: the smoke is subdued, letting the flavors of the tea peek through. The finish is still dominated by the smoke.
As an experiment, I tried steeping a pot with half my usual amount of tea: only 0.8 grams for 6 oz of water (3 minute steep). The smoke is no longer overwhelming. Although I can’t detect the tea flavors, the tea is good this way. Still, I wouldn’t change my ratings, since the tea is still one-dimensional.
Note: It is possible that I am reviewing the wrong tea here. In late 2013, Art of Tea only has a Hao Ya (with no A) and that is the tea I am reviewing.
Thank you Tea at Sea, both for the sample and for the perfect excuse to put off doing my taxes (tea has a higher priority). This is the last of my samples and IMHO the best.
The dry leaf is dark green and rolled like an oolong. The leaves took a while to unwrap, so I almost gave the tea a longer steep, but 3 minutes is my standard time and I like to have that as my basis for comparison to other teas.
The aroma was earthy with hints of stone fruit and not overly strong. The taste was dominated by the stone fruit flavor, reminding me a bit of a 2nd flush Darjeeling. The flavor was quite strong, with very little astringency and no bitterness at all. This is a style I like. The finish was mostly just an echo of the fruit but went on for a very long time.
My one complaint is in the packaging. Tea at Sea went overboard with the cutesy package: a re-sealable foil package with the name of the tea on a separate tag tied to the package. But when you cut open the package, the label is removed, so I had to write the names of the teas on the package with a pen. They didn’t really think this one through. I just hope the larger packages that they sell are more practical.
I steeped this western style in order to permit multiple cups from a sample. Thanks to Tea at Sea for the sample.
I’ve been trying to reduce my stash lately so this is my first new tea since Christmas. I’m excited. The dry color is quite green. The aroma is grassy, with a hint of veggies. Feels very full and rich in the mouth, even with a small sip. Very green in style, with grass and straw flavors but not the spice I usually see in an oolong. Clean and balanced in style with a bit of astringency but not a hint of bitterness. Not overly complex. Long but modest finish.
I’m not a big fan of green teas, so this tea is on the wrong side of the oolong style spectrum for me. However, it is very well made and would be a good oolong for a fan of the greener style of oolong.
I haven’t had much luck with Ceylon teas in the past, largely I think because they are relatively simple compared to the Darjeeling and Chinese blacks I usually drink. Still, I took advantage of Tea at Sea’s generous offer of free sample in hopes that maybe this would be the one.
The aroma in the cup wasn’t strong but held hints of malt and vanilla; a promising start. However, I couldn’t fine those flavors in the taste: just a relatively straightforward breakfast tea style. Not bad, but not the sort of tea I crave.
Thanks again to Tea at Sea for the sample
Welcome to phase 2 of Monkey Monday. This tea has a nice grassy nose. The taste is more straw than grass. I’m not a fan of veggie-flavored tea, so like this one. It has a good mouth-feel and finish.
This is a good, solid tea, but doesn’t really stand out in the crowd. I probably wouldn’t purchase.
Thanks to Little Red Cup for the sample. BTW: as someone who owned a copy of Chairman Mao’s Little red book in college, I love the company’s playful name :)
Welcome to Monkey Monday
I’m sorry, but when I was doing sipdowns this weekend, I realized that I had a number of small samples of teas with the word “Monkey” in the name, and "monkey Monday is so much more alliterative than Monkey Saturday, so I brought several of them to work to drink down today.
So, on to the tea: The aroma is earthy with hints of cocoa. The taste isn’t terribly strong, but that may be due to the low density of the tea (I usually weigh my tea but don’t have a scale at work, so guestimate with a tea-spoon. The tea is very smooth and blends nicely into a medium-length finish that has the same flavors as the taste.
I tend to require complexity for a high score in a tea. This tea is reasonably complex, but is a bit more restrained than I would like. Still, a very good tea overall.
I had about half a cup in the teapot that I let steep for several extra minutes. This second cup was quite a bit stronger, as one would expect, but lost the cocoa nuance and had more of the earthy flavor, which i didn’t like as well.
I’ve been too lazy to write up tasting notes, but it’s too cold to go outside today, so I’ll write some notes.
This is a sample I bought on BF. I’m a big fan of Keemun, so was looking forward to this tea, but this tastes more like a Yunnan to me. It is a cross between a leafy, forest floor taste and chocolate, with only a bit of smoke hiding under the other flavors. The tea is well-made, but I’d prefer more smoke.
As the tea cooled, it became somewhat bitter. Overall, a bit of a disappointment. However, the last time I drank this tea I saw enjoyed it more. My rating is an average of the two scores
An aptly named tea: truly a delight!
1st steep: Lovely stone-fruit smell with hints of honey and orange marmalade. The aroma is so good that I just smell the tea, not bothering to drink it! The taste is soft and full and continues the stone fruit flavors with an earthy undercurrent. The taste seems to grow in the mouth, leading to a very good, very long finish. The flavors changed subtly as the tea cooled, but in no way diminished in quality.
This is the way tea is meant to be. I should probably give this a score of 100, but the earthy flavors contain a hint of bitterness, and the stone fruit doesn’t carry all the way through the finish. Also, the cup finished with some bitterness.
2nd steep: Same basic flavors but more subdued.
I’ve been remiss in logging teas. I’m trying to taste every tea I own (this is number 87) so I’m moving fast and taking brief notes. It’s now after Christmas and I can relax and enjoy some of my new tea.
This is one of my Black Friday teas, brewed with water from my Cuisinart temperature-controlled pot Christmas present, and it just seemed right to write up a note (particularly when I discovered that I’m the first reviewer.
The aroma from the fresh cup was really pleasant: a classic Darjeeling mix of stone fruit and leather. The taste had similar qualities. I really liked this tea, but as it cooled it became somewhat bitter in the finish, which was disappointing.
2nd steep: Nose is richer, with less fruit. The taste is still reasonably powerful but not as complex as the first steep. This time as the tea cooled the stone fruit came forward, but there was no bitterness. I may need to experiment with time and temperature for this tea.
A note on weight: Art of Tea doesn’t give weights for their samples, just saying “5-7 cups”. I bought a number of samples and most were at least 15 grams, which for me is more like 10 cups. I was happy to get this much tea, and love the little tins that their samples come in.
I’m sipping down the last of my samples from Yezi Tea
First steep(3 minutes): Rich aroma of damp forest. The flavor is more like old leather with undertones of chocolate and cedar. Very powerful, yet balanced and well integrated. Good finish.
The second steep was significantly less powerful, yet held all the same flavor components. It seemed more refined; almost like tasting a Bordeaux wine after a California Cabernet. I preferred the first steep, but only slightly.
This isn’t my favorite style of tea, but it was of such high quality that I enjoyed it a lot, so gave it a good score.