101 Tasting Notes

74

Got this with Dark Matter 2016. Used my whole 4.2g in my 60mL gaiwan with boiled water. I enjoyed this tea, but I continue to believe that I just don’t like shou as much as sheng or oolongs. Used more than I often would for a ripe, so I kept the steep times down a bit longer than usual, sub 10 seconds for the first 4 or 5 steeps. I only did one rinse, so the first steep was a little bit funky. By third steep, funk was mostly gone.

In the aroma of the wet leaves and the first 2 steeps I got hints of a sour almost fruity note that was barely there at all, but mostly this tea was an earthy, creamy sweet tea. Also got some mineral notes throughout most sessions and some brown sugar coming out in the final few steeps. Leaves were pretty small, but seemed mostly intact. Started out strong and dropped off quickly after around 9 steeps. Seemed like a good shou to me, but not sure I’d be inclined to pick anymore up myself.

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Earth, Sweet, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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75
drank Genmaicha by Zen Tea
101 tasting notes

My first genmaicha. Wasn’t a tea category I was particularly excited to try, as it seemed weird. Took advantage of the Zen Tea sale to pick up a small sample for almost nothing. I used 2.5g for 150mL water at 160 degrees. Steeps of 1m, 30s, 90s, 5ish.

Super roasty toasty aroma. The flavor was roasty and creamy sweet. I didn’t taste much of any vegetal flavor, though I think it was there. Maybe I had more rice bits than sencha bits in this scoop or something. Not sure if it’s something I’ll want to keep around, but it’s interesting to try and was definitely not bad.

Flavors: Creamy, Roasted, Toasted

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
Nicole

I recently tried this as well for the first time. I have pretty much the same opinion. :) I liked it more than I thought I would.

Matu

Awesome! :) I have to give it another go, because I recently heard that my 2.5g for 150mL water is probly way too light for Japanese greens. But yea, a pleasant surprise for sure.

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80

Had this with 4g and boiling water in my 60mL gaiwan. I was worried it’d be pretty bitter, but I hardly found it to be so at all, probably in part due to the fact I kept steep time low for the first 4-5.

Early steeps had a powerful, woody, kind of nutty taste with a bit of a bitter finish. As the session went on, the bitter finish turned into a mostly sweet taste, but the tea did have a decent mouth-drying effect. Flavors remained mostly the same throughout the session, so not particularly interesting, but was not at all unpleasant.

Flavors: Bitter, Nutty, Smoke, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML
Teazilla

Yeah, agreed on the astringency. I’m finding that to be a characteristic I really enjoy in my young sheng.

Matu

When it’s balanced, astringency/bitterness really adds to a tea for sure :)

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83
drank 2015 Little Walk by White 2 Tea
101 tasting notes

Bought a cake of this with my first W2T order. It’s a solid daily drinker. Tasty and simple. I prefer it with boiling water and 3g in my 60mL gaiwan, as it makes the texture a little nicer and is still almost completely without bitterness. Liquor is a nice and vibrant yellow color.

I get little hints of stonefruit in the first 1-2 steeps sometimes, but mostly this tea is sweet hay/grass flavors. At times I also notice some soft floral notes. It has a nice creamy/viscous texture as well. Finish has a bit of a nice tang to it at times as well.

I’ve been using this tea as a baseline to play around with different waters. I got a Brita filter pitcher because the filter on my fridge is old, hasn’t been changed in forever, and is no longer produced (though it dispenses water I find to be quite tasty for tea). Water from the sinks in my house have a distinct, almost bitter flavor to them, which the brita filter cuts slightly, but doesn’t get rid of. They’ve been pretty bad for making tea. Spring water from the grocery store (in a gallon bottle) was a bit better, but I still tasted the water too much. Interestingly, other than my fridge water, the best I’ve had so far is water from the hose spigot outside the house run through the Brita. I’ve still got some other sources to try out, and I’m thinking Little Walk will continue to be my faithful and reliable companion.

Flavors: Floral, Grass, Hay, Tangy

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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Got this in a recent YS order and tried it for the first time today. I was dismayed when I opened the bag, because it smelled like wet, almost rotten leaf pile. The only other tea I’ve tried that smelled a bit like this was almost unpalatable to me. For this I used 6g in a 100mL gaiwan with boiled water. I did two rinses because I was nervous of wetness. The liquid of this tea was remarkably clear and an orangish brown color. It got more red as the session went on. I did steeps of 7s, 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s. I almost certainly could have gotten more but I sort of had to rush through the session.

The flavor was dominantly wet wood, but wasn’t particularly unpleasant. The smell which had put me off in the beginning became a bit more alluring as I drank the tea, maybe just because I knew the taste wasn’t nasty. Around the third steep a sort of softer/creamy flavor started to creep in on the aftertaste, and the next steep reminded me a good bit of shou. The next one (the last I got to) had a bit of a metallic taste along with wet wood, feeling like it may have been dying, I don’t know. Glad I have 50g of this to mess around with.

Flavors: Wet Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
boychik

It is nice. I like it in Yixing more than gaiwan

Matu

I did enjoy it for sure. Don’t have me an Yixing yet so won’t be able to try that way just yet unfortunately :P

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78

I haven’t had many Yunnan Blacks, but this is my favorite so far. I liked it better than the Golden Monkey I got from YS. I used 3g in a 60mL gaiwan with boiled water.

This was not complex but was pretty tasty. Malty, kind of chocolately notes for the most part. Maybe honey as well. I didn’t get any of the fruity or smoky flavors I got from Golden Monkey – which is nice, because I didn’t find the smoke in that particularly enjoyable. I was prepared for a good bit more bitterness just based on what I have heard about purple tea, but this one had basically none – in fact the taste was pretty delicate. This tea did not last for a great number of steeps, maybe 6 good ones and a few subpar ones. Good tea for the low price, especially combined with the sale that was going on when I bought it.

Flavors: Cocoa, Honey, Malt, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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72

Got one of these as part of Dark Matter 2016! Seems to brew better with a pretty high amount of tea. Got better results with 5.5g than with 4g in my 60mL gaiwan, but I still have to try something more in the middle of those numbers.

For the 5.5g session, I tasted a lot of wetness in the early steeps, which went away, at least on the front of the sip, around steep 4 or so. After that I got a few creamy, sweet, woody steeps with a kind of wet mossy aftertaste. Around steep 8, the aftertaste started getting a bit too funky/weird for me so I called it. I seem to be finding myself less a fan of ripe puerh lately, but I did enjoy this session at least to some degree.

Flavors: Creamy, Sweet, Wet Moss, Wet Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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77

I found the best results using 3g in a 60mL gaiwan with 200 degree water. With too much leaf/too hot of water, the initial steeps were an almost unpleasant bitter sourness. This tea did still yield some bitterness even when brewed like this, though the finish was a sweet vegetal or grassy flavor which did possess a slight sour note. Later steeps were more vegetal sweetness than anything else.

Flavors: Grass, Hay, Sour, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML
JC

This one is definitely up for aging. It is on the rougher side even if you use water at lower temps. But it is a great example for contrast with the other ‘Basics’ set. Make dated notes and try it every 3-6 months (I would advice for 6months).

Matu

Absolutely. Shouldn’t be a problem as it’s not one I want to immediately drink all of :P

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drank Random Steepings by Various Artists
101 tasting notes

Today it’s pretty freaking hot outside, and I had to get out and do some yardwork, which sucked. I came inside and, looking for something refreshing, saw a forgotten cup of yellowish liquid with some spent leaves in the bottom. It took me a bit to even remember what I had decided to cold brew before I remembered it was the remains of my session with the Sesame Baozhong from Dark Matter. I’m not sure it was even safe to drink at this point, as it had been in there for at least a week (covered in plastic wrap at least), but I drank it for science.

It tasted very light, as I would expect for 2g of spent leaves in a 16oz glass. It was a lightly fruity and refreshing drink, and nice to quench my thirst after being outside in the hot sun for an hour or two.

Whiteantlers

Thank you for drinking and reviewing for science! :)

Matu

Somebody’s gotta do it! ;)

No ill effects yet lol.

Whiteantlers

LOL! Fingers crossed for your continued robust health!

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72

Got this tea as part of a swap with JK7ray :) Used 5g in a 100mL gaiwan with 185 degree water. It’s my first tea from Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

This is definitely a pretty light tea. I got malty, caramel, and fruity notes from this one, which combined to make this tea taste like cinnamon raisin bread. The leaves were rather tightly rolled and took a while to open up. The best steeps were really around 6-10, when the leaves had opened an appreciable amount. The liquor was a pale golden color, especially pale in the early steeps before the tea had opened.

I enjoy the flavor of this one, but I think it’s a bit light for my tastes. Really interesting to try however. I may try western style with the remaining 5g I have of it. It seems like it might benefit from some longer steep times like that.

Flavors: Caramel, Cinnamon, Fruity, Malt, Raisins

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Whiteantlers

I always brew this Western style. It does benefit from longer steeping.

Matu

What sort of steep times do you use? Particularly for the first one, because these leaves don’t seem to open up with much ease.

Whiteantlers

I brew this one in my 700 ml. glass pot with a mesh filter. I rinse the leaves first for about 35 seconds, then I do the first steep for about 4 minutes. Makes a big difference.

Matu

Thanks! I’ll give that a try when I go back to this one :)

Whiteantlers

Okay. I like this tea as a breakfast tea and found it’s worth experimenting with as far as brewing parameters.

Matu

Worked much better western style. Got three steeps out of it in my 20 oz. pot – 4m, 5m, 10m. Flavor was a good deal more pronounced and it just felt more rounded and complete in both flavor an texture. Thanks for the tip :)

Whiteantlers

You’re welcome. I think it is fun to play around with different brewing styles and steeping times. Glad you were willing to experiment with this.

Matu

Yup! It’s a blast. I much prefer to do gongfu most of the time, but with work it’s easier (of course) to brew up a pot and toss it in my thermos since I don’t sit at a desk all day or anything.

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Bio

A bit about myself: 20 years old, college grad (Double major in Anthropology and History). I plan to make a career of archaeology and hopefully travel (much of) the world in my days. I enjoy many things, including gaming, reading (history and fantasy books mainly), watching anime, and painting miniatures.

Getting into finer loose leaf tea, still a noob, but excited to begin my journey :) All of my reviews are from drinking tea gongfu style, unless stated otherwise.

When I give a number rating it’s totally arbitrary and only represents how I enjoyed the tea that time I was drinking it. I’m not gonna go back and edit all my previous rankings if my tastes change or anything like that. Taste and enjoyment are subjective, so I find no reason to try to objectify my ratings.

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