141 Tasting Notes
My first Eco-Cha! I got the oolong sample set, and if it all lives up to this first cup, I’ll be moving to Taiwan. It reminds me of eating carrots I’d just pulled from the garden when I was little, complete with just a touch of dirt and that crazy freshness and vegetal tang, with a touch of sweetness. When my tea collection finally arrives where it appears to be heading (toward an exclusive, oolong-only club), this tea will be there.
Well, that settles it. I think I’m overly sensitive to smoke in oolongs, and this is not my thing. Mandala’s colored species and milk oolong (candy oolongs?) are my favorites. This isn’t even especially smoky – it’s just the note I detect first. There’s a lot more going on here. I’m going to skip rating it at all, since I should probably just back away from this whole category of teas.
Remember the first time you had milk oolong and said ‘this is just TEA?’ before buying a pound of it? (No? That was just me?) Silver Buds Yabao is kind of like that. A revelation. Yes, it’s a pu’er, and that comes through quite clearly, but … actually, maybe that’s the difference. None of the muddiness. Depth and lightness and complexity all in one cup. Verdant even suggests icing it, and yes, thank you, I think I will do that too. Despite its lightness, there is nothing delicate about this tea.
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For an unexpected comparison, I just drank Verdant’s Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha the other day, and this is surprisingly similar! Mind you, it is not a substitute. The chocolate nut notes are what remind me of the LBCG, though this has less tea flavor and a light floral overlay. I suppose they are technically both flavored/blended, but my palate tires sooner of these flavors than the at least partly tea-leaf based flavors of the Laoshan. Though I might have really liked this tea in another context, it’s hard to see the point of drinking it with the Laoshan around. And it leaves a ‘flavored’ aftertaste.
It’s nice to be back to oolongs after testing nearly every black under the sun for an upcoming guest. I love their complexity, and this is no exception. Once I get past the basic tea smoke, there is unmistakeable fruit – to the point that it leaves behind a sweet taste on my tongue. And maybe a little minty tingle? Not the flavor, just the tingle. Great stuff.
“…light roasted coffee.” Yes, I can certainly see that. Now that I’ve had the holy trinity of Zhu Rong, Laoshan Black, and Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha, I think I have to make room for all three. Zhu Rong is the lightest of the three, and a delicious, easy going all day tea. I’m not sure I want to ice this one – it might be a touch too delicate for it. Another interesting lesson – I’ve been exploring these and other terrific Chinese black teas at the same time I’m working through an assortment of Dammann Freres flavored blacks. I was optimistic about the flavored teas, since I love the idea of them and am not at all a purist about my tea, but these Chinese blacks are kind of making them look silly. I think I’ll just have to ice all the flavored ones. When I’m craving a hot cup of tea, it’s these smooth blacks that are calling me.
I’m not usually a huge fan of flavored teas. So it’s a bit of a mystery why I’ve ordered several of exactly that from Dammann Freres. This was my first taste, and I’m pretty happy. I mostly taste a warm vanilla, and it’s somehow both obvious and subtle at the same time. It isn’t a fake or chemical-tasting vanilla, but a nice smooth addition to a smooth tea that I’m sure will be terrific iced as well.