344 Tasting Notes
I’m surprised not to see a note for this tea. Wang generously sent me a sample in my mega 2021 order, and I’m getting to it in preparation for my mega order in 2022. (Those Black Friday sales are dangerous, especially with all the new award-winning teas on the site!) I steeped 5 g of my 10 g sample in 120 ml of boiling water for 60, 50, 65, 90, 120, 150, 200, and 240 seconds, plus steeps of 5, 8, and 10 minutes.
The dry aroma is of linden, peach, orchid, and grass. I’ve never had the pleasure of smelling peach blossom, but I can believe the vendor’s claim that the tea has that aroma. The first steep opens with grassy, orchid notes, and then reveals white sugar, peach, grass, mung beans, orchids, and spring flowers. The next steep is quite peachy, with vegetal, grassy, orchid, and sweet flavours and a lovely, lingering aftertaste. The vegetal aspect detracts somewhat from the ethereal florals and stonefruit, but not enough for me to care. Steep three has a lovely combination of peach, orchid, sugar, lettuce, grass, and egg yolk, which I wouldn’t have identified if the vendor hadn’t pointed it out. The tea is both very sweet and very vegetal, with a peachy aftertaste. The next few steeps have lots of peach, cream, and florals, plus lettuce, spinach, grass, and beans. The tea never gets harsh, though it does gradually become more grassy. The peach hangs on until the end of the session, though only as an attenuated sweetness.
This is a stellar tea that I had to buy more of. It’s a bit more vegetal than the Da Yu Ling, but the peach won me over. It also has great longevity. I highly recommend this tea for anyone who likes sweet, fruity high mountain oolongs.
Flavors: Cream, Egg, Floral, Grass, Lettuce, Linden, Mung Bean, Orchid, Peach, Spinach, Sugar, Sweet, Vegetal
I’ve had this hongcha in my tea museum for an embarrassingly long time. Alistair’s Ruby 18 and Taiwanese Assam were so good that I finally decided to try this one, especially as it’s the only one of his higher-end Taiwanese black teas that’s currently in stock. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus some uncounted steeps.
The dry leaves have lovely aromas of blackberries, strawberries, honey, florals, and spice. The first steep is full of jammy red fruit (blackberries, strawberries, and currants), plus lemon, malt, bread, honey, geranium (thanks, Derk!), and clove. The second steep adds sweet potato, tangy orange, and almond in the aftertaste. The next two steeps add notes of cherry along with all the other red fruit, and the geranium, honey, and malt are a little more prominent. Steeps five and six have some malt and earthiness, but are still full of red fruit, sweet potato, cream, and lemon. In the next couple steeps, the fruit starts to fade, though it’s still very much in evidence, and I can taste the sweet potato a little more. The sweet potato and jammy red fruit continue over several more steeps, with malt, honey, grass, earth, and minerals becoming stronger near the end of the session.
This is the kind of lush, aroma-forward tea I gravitate toward. The early steeps remind me of Fruit Roll-Ups, especially if I’m not paying attention, and this is far from a bad thing. There’s never any astringency during my extended gongfu sessions. The body can be a bit thin sometimes, but that jammy red fruit keeps me coming back for more.
Flavors: Almond, Black Currant, Blackberry, Bread, Cherry, Clove, Cream, Earth, Floral, Geranium, Grass, Honey, Jam, Lemon, Malt, Mineral, Orange, Red Fruits, Spices, Strawberry, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tangy
I made a big Floating Leaves order over the Black Friday weekend, so the least I can do is finish a few of the teas from my last order in 2021 before my haul arrives. This Dong Ding is from either spring 2021 or winter 2020. 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, plus some long, uncounted steeps.
The dry aroma is of walnuts, hazelnuts, roast, and flowers. The first steep has notes of nuts, cream, banana bread, honey, minerals, grass, and char. The next steep has more banana and nuts, plus honey and narcissus/orchid florals. The roast is on the lighter side, and the body of the tea is thick. The next couple steeps feature nuts, graham cracker, roast, pine, florals, and grass. Steeps five and six are a little more grassy and vegetal, though they still have a nice, round honey and roasty flavour. Subsequent steeps are a bit more nutty and roasty, with floral and grassy undertones. The final long steeps have notes of graham cracker, roast, nuts, butter, minerals, and wood.
I want to like Dong Dings more than I actually do, as I find most of them too roasty. This one was on the lighter side, however, and I thought it had more character than some others. The florals and banana bread were a nice break from the roast, and it never started tasting like overbrewed coffee, as some other roasted teas can. I’m glad I tried this tea, but don’t regret leaving it out of my 2022 order.
Flavors: banana, Bread, Butter, Char, Cream, Floral, Graham Cracker, Grass, Hazelnut, Honey, Mineral, Narcissus, Nutty, Orchid, Pine, Roasted, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood
I was delighted to find this three-year-old sample in the vaults of my tea museum. I enjoy Laoshan black tea, but haven’t had any in quite a while. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain pot at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.
The dry aroma is of cocoa, rye bread, honey, and malt. The first steep has notes of fudgy cocoa, dark chocolate, rye bread, honey, cream, and malt. The second steep adds faint cherry, minerals, and wood, but this tea is all about the cocoa. The next couple steeps are more roasty with hints of caramel. Steeps five and six are mineral, woody, and roasty with some sourness, but still, the cocoa makes it quite drinkable. The cocoa continues into the tenth steep, after which the tea has notes of wood, earth, minerals, and roast.
For such an old tea, this Laoshan Black stood up rather well. I appreciated its cozy, somewhat simple profile on this dull day. It didn’t change much over the gongfu session, but for a comforting chocolate tea, that’s okay.
Flavors: Bread, Caramel, Cherry, Chocolate, Cocoa, Cream, Earth, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Pleasantly Sour, Roasted, Rye, Wood
I decided to get a bunch of new first and second flush Darjeelings this year, even though I still have a few from years past. Maybe I should have waited, since I’ve heard that weather conditions during the second flush harvest weren’t that great. I steeped 4 g of leaf in a 355 ml mug at 195F for 4.5, 6, and 8 minutes.
The dry aroma is of raisins, figs, malt, autumn leaves, spices, and wood. The first steep has notes of raisin, fig, muscatel, rye bread, autumn leaves, chili, spices, honey, tannins, malt, and wood. It’s a little drying, though I may have used a bit too much leaf. The next steep emphasizes raisins, rye bread, autumn leaves, cream, malt, and wood, though the aftertaste is nice and fruity. It also, predictably, becomes more drying. The final steep adds caramel and grass, and is bready, malty, and tannic without much fruit.
This is a nice daily drinker Darjeeling that I probably won’t remember a couple months from now. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it doesn’t pop with lush fruit and florals like some really good SF teas.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Bread, Caramel, Chili, Cream, Drying, Fig, Grass, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Raisins, Rye, Spices, Tannin, Wood
I’ve been looking forward to trying this Shan Lin Xi for a while, and finally finishing a 150 g pack of another Shan Lin Xi gave me the perfect opportunity. (I actually forgot to post a note on that tea, but fortunately, I have another bag.) I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot using boiling water for 55, 45, 55, 65, 75, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus several uncounted steeps.
The dry aroma is of pineapple, orchids, and grass. The first steep has orchid, pineapple, coconut, woodsy, and grassy notes, with some other unidentifiable florals mixed in. The next steep has a touch of astringency and the sappy quality I get with many teas from Shan Lin Xi. I also notice cream, green beans, and sweeter florals (narcissus?), and as Daylon said, it kind of reminds me of a fabric softener sheet. The aroma at the bottom of the cup is particularly floral and fruity. Steeps three and four are full of cooked pineapple, herbs, orchids, sweet pea flowers, beans, grass, and veggies, with maybe a hint of citrus. The tea is becoming increasingly vegetal and green. The next couple steeps feature more coconut and pineapple in the aroma, but more spinach and grass in the taste. The final long steeps are mostly vegetal with hints of florality.
This is a highly drinkable tea, as shown by the fact that I’ve had three sessions with it in the past few days and will finish my 25 g bag shortly. I love the tropical fruit and sweet florals, but the strongly vegetal flavours and lack of longevity bring my rating down somewhat. Nonetheless, this is a tea I will consider buying again, if only because it’s substantially more affordable than the SLX Wild Garden.
Flavors: Citrus, Coconut, Cream, Floral, Grass, Green, Green Beans, Herbaceous, Narcissus, Orchid, Pineapple, Rainforest, Sap, Spinach, Vegetal
It’s always nice to get tea from Whispering Pines, since shipping costs from the U.S. to Canada are so high. Thanks to Daylon for the generous sample! I steeped 6 g of leaf in 120 ml of water at 195F for 7, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus some uncounted steeps.
The dry aroma is hard to pin down, with elements that remind me of cranberry, grape, hay, malt, tobacco, tomato vine, and wood. It smells like a wild Yunnan tea, if that’s helpful. The first steep has notes of earth, forest floor, minerals, grapes, squash, honey, hay, malt, and wood. The next steep is sweeter, with molasses, tobacco, bread, red grapes, cranberries, pine, and maybe some spices. In the third and fourth steeps, I get bread, honey, sweet potato, raisins, hay, malt, cream, pine, earth, smoke, wood, and minerals, and the tea is a bit drying. The aftertaste is particularly sweet, though this is a savoury tea overall. I get berry and cherry notes in the next couple steeps, and the tea is a bit sweeter. As the session goes on, the tea becomes more like a standard Yunnan tea, with notes of bread, honey, pine, tannins, malt, and wood. The final steeps feature malt, wood, tannins, minerals, honey, and raisins, with some red grape sneaking in on the longer steeps.
This is a rustic, wild Yunnan tea that is nonetheless nuanced and complex. Its sweet, earthy flavours really do evoke a forest, particularly in the first few steeps, and I had fun trying to detect everything that was going on. I don’t usually gravitate toward these types of teas, but would highly recommend this one.
Flavors: Bread, Cherry, Cranberry, Cream, Earth, Forest Floor, Grapes, Hay, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Molasses, Pine, Raisins, Smoke, Spices, Squash, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes, Tannin, Tobacco, Tomato, Wood
If I make a purchase from a vendor that carries a Mi Xiang black tea, chances are good it’ll end up in my cart. It was an extra draw that this one is from Shan Lin Xi. 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 of honey, raisins, dates, pastry, malt, and wood. The first steep has notes of honey, raisins, dates, plums, pine, pastry, malt, and wood. As expected, the honey is the dominant presence, especially in the aftertaste. The next steep leans more toward plum and nectarine, and is quite sweet with a bit of a drying finish. Steeps three and four have hints of cinnamon, though that might be the honey, fruit, and pastry notes playing tricks on me. Steeps five and six introduce grass, cream, florals (orchid?), and more of that piny/sappy quality typical of SLX and bug-bitten teas. In the next two steeps, the fruit starts to fade and the malt, wood, and grass get stronger. There’s a touch of astringency in the finish, though this is still a very soft tea overall. The final steeps lean into tannins, raisins, malt, grass, and wood.
This is a nice Mi Xiang that is quite similar to others of its kind. I liked the stonefruit, though it could have lasted longer. The pine and florality indeed remind me of Shan Lin Xi. I would definitely consider buying more of this tea, though I’d be equally happy with the ones from Camellia Sinensis or Cha Yi, which are easier to find and possibly cheaper.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Dates, Drying, Floral, Grass, Honey, Malt, Nectarine, Orchid, Pastries, Pine, Plum, Raisins, Sweet, Tannin, Wood
I tried this tea earlier this year and it was so good that I’ve been hoarding the last couple sessions’ worth. However, green oolongs never respond to this well, so I’ve decided to finish it before 2022 comes to an end. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds, plus some long, uncounted steeps.
The dry aroma is of coconut, pineapple, orchids, honeysuckle, custard, and grass. The first steep is floral and grassy, with orchid, honeysuckle, custard, cream, and hints of pineapple and coconut. The next steep is still very green, with the kind of coconut water taste that Daylon describes. I’m getting other floral notes that I can’t pinpoint, though it could be lily as the vendor says. This oolong comes into its stride in steeps three and four, with coconut, lime, custard, milk, headier florals, and grass. It’s still a little green for me, but the coconut and florals are lovely. Steeps five and six retain a lot of these flavours, but the spinach and grass are becoming stronger. I also get a bit of herbaceousness along with the coconut, lime, custard, and florals. The tea starts to fade after this, with the next couple steeps featuring florals, custard, faint coconut, spinach, and grass. The rest of the session is greener, with notes of grass, spinach, and faint florals.
This is an excellent tea with many of the flavours I like. It’s a bit green for me, but that’s a minor quibble considering everything else it has to offer. Thanks to Daylon for sending me such a generous sample!
Flavors: Coconut, Cream, Custard, Floral, Grass, Green, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Lily, Lime, Milk, Orchid, Pineapple, Spinach, Vegetal
This is part of the High Mountain Experience Set I bought from Wang back in 2021, and I wanted to try this tea before it became eligible for a spot in my tea museum. I haven’t had many Cui Feng oolongs. Of the two I can remember, one was not that great and the other was very floral. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml porcelain teapot using boiling water for 55, 45, 55, 65, 75, 90, 120, 180, and 240 seconds, plus a few uncounted steeps.
The dry aroma is of orchids, cookies, cream, and grass. The first steep has notes of orchids, cookies, cream, honeysuckle, other florals, and grass, with faint peach in the aftertaste. Orchids continue to be the dominant flavour in the second steep, with cookies, grass, cream, citrus, peach, and other florals in the background. This tea is quite sweet. The next couple steeps have lots of orchid, honeysuckle, orange blossom, grass, cream, citrus, peach, and something I’ll call woodsiness that also recently appeared in their Alishan. Steeps five and six are a bit more grassy, though with plenty of orchids, other florals, cream, and fruit. The next few steeps become even more grassy and a bit vegetal, though I still get orchids, cream, and sweet florals. The final long steeps are floral, grassy, herbaceous, and vegetal.
This tea measures up to Wang’s high standards, though I was a bit distracted by all the grass. Steeping it in my clay pot highlighted its grassy aspects and toned down the fruit, which is why I prefer it in porcelain. The sweet florals and hints of fruit make up for any downsides, and like other teas from this vendor, it has good longevity. This isn’t my favourite tea from Wang, but I’d highly recommend it.
Flavors: Citrus, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Peach, Sweet, Vegetal