120 Tasting Notes
Another reviewer noted this tea is between a legacy blend and smoother Chinese black tea, and I agree. In fact, if it were presented to me as a mix of the two, I’d have believed it. It seems to hit all of those notes in a really wonderful way. The dry leaf color gave me the impression it would be a lighter flavor, but it just goes to show that’s a really silly way to judge tea. I’ll keep this one around for guests looking for English Breakfast. It’s way better than anything I’ve found in that category, and I don’t think they’ll be disappointed!
I won’t try to describe the taste – that has been very well accomplished by others, so I second them all. What I can add is that in today’s black tea face off, it easily beats Black Gold for me, as the bold but sweet flavor/no astringency combination is knocking my socks off. This will have to square off against yesterday’s Golden Needle, and I suspect it will win there too. (I am not a huge black tea fan, so, with the exception of some flavored varieties, yeah, I’m really just looking to keep one or two black teas around.) UPDATE: Very strange. Most black teas make me feel stressed and panicky, but no such effect with this one.
The hunt for my house black tea continues. First up today is Black Gold, against yesterday’s winner, Golden Needle. Gah – they’re all so good! In comparison, this one seems a bit lighter in flavor and more astringent. I do think I miss that malty sweetness, and maybe it’s that I’m drinking too many black teas these days, but the astringency is starting to bother me a bit. I suppose if a black tea makes me crave white tea, it can’t be my winner.
Another surprise. The aroma convinced me this tea would be a bit too thin and sharp, even tinny, for my tastes. But tasting, while leaving in place those high metallic notes, rounds them out with a deeper umami and brings it all together in a lighter-flavored but balanced and refreshing tea. While I’d be very happy having this any time at all, it simply doesn’t win a spot in my cabinet with competition so far from both Laoshan black and Golden Needle (and very few spots for black tea at all). Still, an excellent, excellent tea.
I have so little to compare this with, mostly being a green/oolong girl. But a guest coming in a couple weeks drinks copious amounts of black tea, so naturally I had to investigate as many as I can. And I’ve started here. Should I just stop now? My goal is to serve my guest something she’ll independently notice and ask about and want to make at home, and this would have to accomplish that – it’s just delicious! I guess I don’t really have a new take on it, since the popular ’sweet, chocolatey, malty" descriptions are dead on, except to say that compared with your standard legacy blend this is much more gentle and complex in all the ways I love about oolong.
What in the wild world of sports is this? I do like an assertive tea, and this is pushy. Yep, a big, pushy…bouquet of violets and daffodils and twigs. My OCD streak wants to know if this counts as a ‘classic’ green oolong? I just haven’t got my oolongs sorted enough yet to know that. Whatever. Shut up, OCD streak, I’m keeping this tea, whether I know what to call it or not.
This is one of my three finalists for the milk oolong spot in the collection. I guess I need to retaste them all in quick succession. If memory serves – and it may well not – I think the scent of the dry leaves is a little less impressive than Mandala’s but the flavor is a touch better? And then I remember liking Capital’s version even a bit better than this one? For reference, my gold standard would be ‘punch me in the face with milky oolong flavor.’ Subtle, I am not. UPDATE: Having a little oolong-off here this morning, and the Mandala milk oolong is a bit more flavorful.
Hibiscus is the base flavor here for all this wonderful fruitiness, but it doesn’t overwhelm. In fact, my first impression was that the tea was simply too light despite a generous brewing, but after most of a pot of it, I’ve decided that’s what’s growing on me – it’s one you can sip all day. I like to keep one hibiscus tea around for the health benefits, and this just might be the winner.
I’ve never had Laoshan black before but it might be my new love. It certainly stands up to the citrus flavor while adding something delicious all its own. It’s a terrific exception the usual situation where I can’t taste the tea in my flavored teas. Because I apparently compare everything to supermarket teas, this would surprisingly not replace Earl Grey in the cabinet – it would replace Lemon Lift. It’s expertly blended though, with this incredible tea base, bright citrus, and gentle rose. I look forward to trying any other Laoshan I can get my hands on. Mmm.