225 Tasting Notes

83

I bought this Wuyi oolong in Tao Tea Leaf’s 50% off sale around Christmas 2015. Since it’s a tea I enjoyed, I’ve naturally been hoarding it for the past five years. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 200F for 7, 10, 12, 16, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of cannabis, oakwood, char, and nuts. The first steep has notes of char, smoke, cannabis, walnuts, almonds, cream, honey, minerals, and oakwood. The woody, nutty notes predominate. I get some baked bread in the second steep, along with tobacco and roast in the aftertaste. Perhaps due to the tea’s age, I don’t detect any flowers or stonefruit. The flavour profile remains constant through the next four steeps, becoming more drying, mineral, and roasty at the end of the session.

Despite its somewhat heavy roast, which I usually find off-putting, this is a fun and enjoyable oolong. I actually like it better than their Da Hong Pao, which I bought at the same time. I wish it had some fruit and florals, but that oakwood flavour makes it unique and oddly compelling.

Flavors: Almond, Baked Bread, Cannabis, Char, Cream, Honey, Mineral, Nutty, Oak wood, Roasted, Smoke, Tobacco, Walnut

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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86
drank Ali Shan by CHA YI Teahouse
225 tasting notes

I sipped down the last of my 25 g of this tea yesterday. I finally got up the nerve to use the clay houhin that Mrmopar sent me a while ago, and much to my surprise and relief, it didn’t break. Maybe I’m not a degenerate teapot murderer after all! This tea was extra floral and cookie-like because I used a larger amount in what I think might be a 100 or 110 ml pot. Sadly, the fruity notes weren’t as evident as they were in a porcelain vessel.

I’m sad to see this tea go and regret not picking up more in the company’s recent sale. (But then, if I restocked all the teas I enjoyed, my cupboard would be even fuller than it is now.)

Thanks again, Mrmopar, for the teapot!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 8 g 4 OZ / 110 ML
White Antlers

mrmopar is an unsung hero.

Leafhopper

Absolutely!

mrmopar

Welcome and enjoy!

Leafhopper

Thanks again! The pot is easy to handle, though it does get hot if you don’t use the detachable base (which I initially didn’t).

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70

I ordered this tea in March of 2016, which means that it’s probably—gasp!—from 2015! Yes, I’m a bit embarrassed by this. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is typical Red Jade: menthol, cinnamon, raisins, malt, and stonefruit. The first steep has notes of sassafras, menthol, malt, cinnamon, cream, raisins, tannin, and wood. The next steep has more malt and menthol and not much fruit. There’s some astringency in the background and a drying aftertaste. Aside from a bit of raisin, the third and fourth steeps continue to be all about the malt, menthol, tannin, and sassafras. Later steeps emphasize malt, tannin, earth, wood, and minerals.

This tea has all the standard Red Jade flavours, though it’s on the maltier, more astringent side. I won’t have any trouble finishing the bag, but don’t need to buy more, as it isn’t anything new or spectacular.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Drying, Earth, Licorice, Malt, Menthol, Mineral, Raisins, Stonefruits, Tannin, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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86

This is the final tea review from my big Camellia Sinensis purchase in 2018. (I repurchased the Gyokuro Okkabe and Feng Huang Hong Cha, but I’ve already reviewed these teas.) Camellia Sinensis regularly stocks three Dong Dings: Mr. Chang, Mr. Nen Yu, and Ms. Lin. The last of these is more often out of stock than available, so I decided there must be something to it. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of char, roast, honey, flowers, and plums. The wet leaves in the teapot smell like charcoal and roast, which makes me wonder why I have such a penchant for buying roasted teas that I can’t appreciate. The first steep has notes of roasted grain, honey, plum, caramel, wood, and roast. The plum becomes more pronounced in the second steep, and I also get orchid, other flowers, roasted walnuts, charcoal, and cream. The next couple steeps are more roasty, with roasted nuts, walnuts, honey, baked bread, roast, wood, and charcoal predominating and some florals and plum in the background. The tea is starting to get drying in the mouth. As expected, the session becomes increasingly focused on the roast and ends with charcoal, roast, wood, roasted nuts, earth, and minerals.

I understand why this Dong Ding gets snapped up so quickly. While it’s a little too roasted for me, I love its sweet, toasty, slightly fruity profile and think it would be a great tea for fall or winter.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Caramel, Char, Cream, Earth, Floral, Grain, Honey, Mineral, Orchid, Plums, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Walnut, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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77
drank Seaberry Spa by DAVIDsTEA
225 tasting notes

I bought this tea on clearance back in March 2020. It’s not what I usually go for, but it was something like $3 for 50 g and I thought I’d give it a chance. I steeped around 1.5 teaspoons in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 3.5, 5, 8, and 10 minutes.

Dry, this tea smells like tart, floral, berry bubble gum. The first steep is surprisingly gentle, with cranberry, floral, lemon, chamomile, rosemary, and faint ginger. Happily, the apple and licorice aren’t in evidence, though sadly, neither is the white tea. There’s a lingering sweetness in the aftertaste. I’ve never had sea buckthorn, so can’t comment on its presence. The licorice is a bit more noticeable as the cup cools. The flavour doesn’t change in the next couple steeps, although the ginger and rosemary are stronger in the fourth.

This tea is much more subtle than I expected. Though there’s a lot going on, all the flavours work together to create a fruity, floral, herbaceous blend that fits its spa moniker.

Flavors: Cranberry, Floral, Ginger, Herbaceous, Lemon, Licorice, Sweet, Tart

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 355 ML

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74

I bought this premium Meishan Alishan to compare with the regular Meishan version. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at boiling for 20, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of heady spring flowers, honey, cookies, and grass. The first steep has intense notes of lilac, sweet pea, narcissus, and other flowers, plus butter, corn, bok choy, spinach, herbs, and grass. The second steep has green tea–like veggies balanced with herbs, flowers, and faint sweetness. The predominantly vegetal notes continue into the next few steeps, although there are plenty of floral, honey, and herbaceous notes as well. The end of the session focuses on kale, spinach, broccoli, bok choy, and other veggies, with a slight floral sweetness.

I was not expecting this tea to make such a swift and merciless descent from sweet Alishan florals to veggie soup. Maybe it was my brewing parameters, although I did my best to follow Tillerman’s instructions. I’ll keep experimenting to see if I can justify giving this tea a higher rating.

Flavors: Bok Choy, Broccoli, Butter, Cookie, Corn Husk, Floral, Grass, Green, Herbaceous, Honey, Kale, Narcissus, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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81

This is my second Tillerman Tea review (the first was posted during the Steepster website mess). I bought a sample of this tea to compare it to their premium Alishan. Following their brewing times, I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at boiling for 20, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of heady flowers, cookies, and grass. The first steep has notes of honeysuckle, lilac, daffodil, grass, butter, spinach, and cookies. The second steep is even more floral, though with some vegetal flavours. I also get honey and an herbaceous aftertaste. The herbaceous notes get stronger in the next couple steeps, but so, unfortunately, does the spinach and grass, with the honey, cookie, and florals fading into the background. A hint of citrus appears in the lingering aftertaste. (I think these long aftertastes are becoming a theme for Tillerman’s tea selection.) The end of the session is vegetal, creamy, and floral.

As the website claims, this is a straightforward tea that provides a good introduction to high mountain oolongs. I kind of wish it had more complexity, but will gladly finish my 12 g sample. I also wish the website gave timing instructions for more than the first two steeps, as I feel it might have done better with different brewing parameters.

Flavors: Butter, Citrus, Cookie, Creamy, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Narcissus, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
Boiling 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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85
drank Guei Fei by Camellia Sinensis
225 tasting notes

This is part of my huge 2018 haul from Camellia Sinensis. All of you know my fondness for bug-bitten teas, and based on my rave review of their Bai Hao, I thought I’d like their Guei Fei as well. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of intense honey, flowers, and stewed fruit. The first steep has notes of honey, baked bread, flowers, sweet apple, and other stewed fruits. (Camellia Sinensis says “red fruits,” which I kind of agree with.) A tart berry note emerges in steep two. The tartness, stewed fruits, flowers, and, most of all, the honey characterize the next couple steeps. This is definitely a dessert tea. The honey and baked bread just keep getting stronger in the fifth and sixth rounds. Sadly, I don’t notice any cinnamon, which both Roswell Strange and the website point out. The flavours become slightly attenuated as the session ends, although the honey and red fruit are still present. The final steeps have a bit of astringency and are somewhat vegetal.

This is a sweet, luxurious Guei Fei that’s easy to drink. Though it lacks the complexity of the Bai Hao, this is kind of expected given the nature of this type of oolong. I’ve had a lot of bug-bitten oolongs recently and the flavours have become somewhat predictable, but this oolong executes them very well.

Flavors: Apple, Baked Bread, Berries, Floral, Honey, Red Fruits, Stewed Fruits, Tart, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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92

I just received a bunch of 2020 first and second flush Darjeelings from Lochan Tea, and, impatient as I am, I’ve already cut open one of the bags, even though I have some 2019 first flush on the go. Let me say that their foil vacuum-sealed bags are great for keeping tea fresh, but also sadly prevent me from trying all the teas at once, which I would totally do if I had enough empty tins. I steeped around 4 g in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 5 and 8 minutes.

I forgot how nice fresh Darjeeling is. The dry aroma of these fluffy, still slightly springy leaves is of flowers, autumn leaves, muscatel, chili, and stonefruit. The first steep has notes of herbs, chili, grass, honey, flowers, autumn leaves, muscatel, cream, and wood, with some stonefruit (apricot?) coming in on the aftertaste. This first flush is more savoury than sweet and has some pleasant astringency in the mouth. I wish Eastkyteaguy had access to this tea because there are flavours I can’t pin down that he’d probably get. The second steep has more wood and tannins, but still has the muscatel, spicy, grassy, and floral profile of the first steep.

This is an excellent way to begin my exploration of Lochan’s 2020 offerings. It reminds me a bit of the Guranse Spring Hand-Rolled Floral Black Tea from What-Cha I reviewed a few months ago. I gave the 2019 version of the Giddapahar Spring Wonder an 84. To my mind, the 2020 harvest is substantially better. There could be a number of reasons for this, including the AV2 cultivar, the possibility that I used more leaves, and the tea’s freshness. Regardless, I’m delighted I have 50 grams and look forward to trying the other teas I purchased.

Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Cream, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Muscatel, Spices, Stonefruits, Tannin, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 355 ML
White Antlers

This sounds lovely!

Leafhopper

It is! I was originally offered 100 g of this tea, but had to trim my order slightly since it was getting expensive. I kind of regret that now, though I’m sure they sent other good teas.

White Antlers

I will look forward to reading your tasting notes on the rest of your 2020 Lochans. : )

Leafhopper

There are a bunch of them! I hope the site continues to let me post reviews.

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drank Gaba Lu Cha by Sebz
225 tasting notes

I believe I bought this tea in 2016. I’m drinking the last of it, having put it off for months because I suspected the session would be underwhelming. I really should have finished it years ago, and as such I’m not rating it, although even in its prime, I didn’t love it. I steeped the remaining 6 g in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

Dry, the tea smells faintly of GABA funk and flowers. The first couple steeps have notes of malt, sourness, custard, wood, nuts, and faint flowers. The next couple steeps add pencil shavings, tannins, and grass. That GABA sourness persists in the aftertaste. The tea has a heavy, viscous body into the next few steeps. The flavours don’t evolve much over the session, although the grass, tannins, and sourness increase.

I’ve had a few GABA teas now and have come to the conclusion that I’m not too fond of them. I don’t notice any relaxation benefits, and they all have a sour note that I find off-putting. This was kind of a tuition tea for me, and while I don’t regret buying it, I’m also not sad to see it go.

Flavors: Custard, Floral, Grass, Heavy, Malt, Nuts, Pleasantly Sour, Tannin, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
White Antlers

I find GABA teas a let down for any psychoactive effects, too.

Leafhopper

Yay! You can see my note!

White Antlers

I can, indeed. This is the first time I could access the site in 3 days. I have no Dashboard, though.

Mastress Alita

I only “see” it because I’m manually checking through people I’m Following. My Dashboard continues to be blank.

Leafhopper

Ugh. There are so many issues with Steepster right now.

mastressalitaclone

Now I can’t post replies anymore, so I had to make a new account JUST to post. The new thing now is that our Profiles are disappearing… I noticed mine gone (though I have a backup), and my friend Todd’s was gone, but I see yours is as well, Leafhopper. The “Bio” and “Website” fields are being replaced with “blank”

Leafhopper

You’re right, my profile is gone. I don’t even remember what I wrote, but I know there was something there. This is very discouraging.

Leafhopper

I just googled my Steepster tealog and copied the text of my profile from the cache. This could be a workaround for other users whose profiles are being deleted. I wouldn’t know how to make a backup of my 216 tasting notes, and there’s nowhere I could post them anyway.

Mastress Alita

See, I never post a tea review directly to the site. I wrote every single one to an external file on my computer first (Steepster.txt), and that .txt file I have set to backup in various places. So my tea reviews are well backed up. But it isn’t like there is an “alternative” to Steepster to move to, or I’d have left to there months ago…

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Profile

Bio

Since I discovered Teavana’s Monkey Picked Oolong four years ago, I’ve been fascinated by loose-leaf tea. I’m glad to say that my oolong tastes have evolved, and that I now like nearly every tea that comes from Taiwan, oolong or not, particularly the bug-bitten varieties. I also find myself drinking Yunnan blacks and Darjeelings from time to time, as well as a few other curiosities.

However, while online reviews might make me feel like an expert, I know that I still have some work to do to actually pick up those flavours myself. I hope that by making me describe what I’m tasting, Steepster can improve my appreciation of teas I already enjoy and make me more open to new possibilities (maybe even puerh!).

Location

Toronto

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