108 Tasting Notes
This is less of a review than an update of my personal journey into pu-erh land. I know there are folks in Steepster who have been encouraging this journey, so this note is for them. For those expecting a review, I apologize.
I am still trying to understand my reaction to this tea. It is not at all what I usually like in a tea: it has a tinge of bitterness, a flavor that is earthy and not terribly complex, but slightly sweet. The main positive characteristic is a really great feel in my mouth; kind of like umami. And yet, when I drink it I feel really satisfied. It is also VERY conducive to relaxation, which is something I find very hard to do (serious type-A, with the high blood pressure to prove it).
I recall a discussion about drinking pu-erh for non-taste reasons. Perhaps this is it?
From the unflavored TTB.
The main reason I signed up for the unflavored TTB was the hope to try a number of pu-erh teas. Up to that point, I had had a few, but none struck me as very good, and I was hoping to taste some of the highly rated Mandala teas. Though I enjoyed some of them, I was mostly disappointed.
There were only two raw pu-erhs in the box. When I expressed great disappointment with wild monk sheng, kimquat suggested that I had made a mistake by brewing it at 200 degrees, and said I should treat it as a green tea. There wasn’t much wild monk left, but I took a small sample of this tea to try later, which turned out to be today.
I absolutely love the tea. I only have 2 grams, so I am doing 1 minute steeps of 3 oz. I also skipped a rinse (though was prepared to do so if the first cup tasted off).
1st steep: Very little nose. Tastes like a white tea but with a deeper, richer finish. Very good. I don’t detect any musty or off flavors at all. By the time I got to the bottom of the cup, the rich flavors were throughout the taste, not just the finish. 2nd steep: While the flavors are similar to the 1st steep, they are much richer and more complex, like comparing an orchestra to a string quartet. Very rich mouth-feel. I’m starting to see what all the fuss is about over pu-erh. This is a great tea.
Subsequent steeps had similar flavors but not the richness or depth of the first two.
I got this in a swap with KallieBoo!. Not the sort of thing I would normally try. I had difficulty identifying the aroma until I thought of burnt popcorn, which is almost a perfect fit. I don’t think I would have been able to drink this without sugar and just couldn’t like it. Not what I would call tea.
The lemon grass really elevates the tea: big lemon nose, and the lemon is strong in the taste, though the green tea comes through underneath, with subtle hints of something else, though I can’t really detect discrete coconut or ginger flavors. The overall effect is light and refreshing; I use it as a pallate-cleanser when I want to get away from the tannic black teas I tend to drink
This is the last of my three free samples from Green Terrace Tea. I’m grateful for the opportunity to taste such fine teas. I prepared this oolong in what I call a modified gong-fu method: 3 grams in 6 oz of water with 60 second steeps. It is a compromise between the simplicity of western style and the effort of true gong-fu.
1st steep (60 s): Light nose is spicy, with cooked veggies underneath. Taste has good mouth-feel but not as interesting as the nose. Good finish. As I sip, the tea seems to keep getting better, probably because the finish is so long that the taste builds upon itself. 2nd steep (70 s): Similar to the first steep but more powerful. Really good. 3rd (2 min): Still very good. I’ll probably try a few more steeps but have other things to do today, so will stop for now.
When I was pouring the tea, I detected a bit of fruity aroma. In the cup, the aroma is a complex mixture of cooked stone fruit and an underlying leafiness. The taste is simiar to the nose, but very sweet. OMG: the finish is just amazing. Big and fruity and goes on forever. Sorry; I just had to interrupt. This is a great finish.
One of my favorite things about a really good tea is how it builds up as you drink it. When the finish from the last sip is still there when I inhale the aroma, and the aroma and the finish combine with the taste in my mouth to just build the experience. This tea gives me the full experience.
This is the kind of tea you need to just spend time with. Don’t watch TV. Don’t work. Don’t read a book. I shouldn’t even be writing a review. Just savor the tea. It is worth it.
Thanks to Green Terrace Tea for the review sample.
I’ve enjoyed a lot of Li Shan oolongs, so when Green Terrace Teas offered free samples for reviews, I jumped at the chance to try two black teas from Taiwan.I caught a whiff of molasses when I first opened the package. It is there again in the nose, which is rich. There are also hints of earth and fruit in the nose. The taste is really rich, with the same mix of flavors. As I drank more, a stone fruit flavor came to the fore. Also a very good finish.
This is the kind of tea I really enjoy. It is big and rich with a complex mixture of flavors.
From the unflavored TTB
I brewed this Western style, so as to leave a little for the next person in the list. The aroma was spicy with hints of grass. The taste is full of spice, with grass/straw highlights. Taste is fairly big, but the finish is just huge: very rich and powerful and goes on forever. This is my favorite style of oolong: a nice balance between green and black, with the best features of each.
From the unflavored TTB.
I used less tea than I normally do per the instructions in the TTB. I didn’t need more than 1 gram. Powerful nose is a blend of autumn leaves, chocolate, and smoke. The taste is similar. This is a very good tea, but I think I prefer the Yunnan stlye that is heavier on the chocolate. The finish is almost ethereal: the blend of the flavors changes subtly and it fades very slowly. Others’ tasting notes mention caramel, and the flavor now seems obvious to me, but I don’t see the honey, raisins, etc.
Although this isn’t my favorite flavor mix, the tea was so well made and interesting that it still rates a very high score.