209 Tasting Notes

78

A rather different seeming gyokuro. Leaf buds and tips are smaller than the leaf usually used for this kind of tea. Taking that in mind, I didn’t brew it as long as I normally do for gyokuro, and I’m glad I didn’t. First steep was 1 minute at 140F – this steep was thick, with umami and grassy flavors, along with a nutty or bready finish that I really wasn’t a huge fan of. Next, I did steeps of 15s, 30s, and 1m with 175F water. The umami was basically gone after the first steep, as was the nutty/bready business that was going on. The grassiness took a more prominent place for the rest of the session, and the tea developed a pretty nice asparagus vegetal note as well.

Flavors: Grass, Nutty, Thick, Umami

Preparation
140 °F / 60 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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drank Random Steepings by Various Artists
209 tasting notes

A tea from the Puerh TTB labeled “2016 Xigui Caicheng.” I think Xigui is the factory, not 100% sure though. The leaf for this one was very green. Smelled of straw and grass when dry. After a rinse, I got a slight briney note on the nose as well. Bitterness is the main thing I noticed with this one for the first 5 or so steeps – a rather unpleasant and astringent bitterness. Also detected nutty and straw notes – more like I had oversteeped a green tea. That harsh astringency did start to fade around steep number 6, after which I got around 6 more steepings with a basic sweet hay characteristic and slightly thick texture. Wouldn’t consider this tea a winner, though part of that could be that I brutalized it a little bit with boiling water. I’m guessing it would be more tasty with a few years’ age on it to cut that bitterness.

Rating: 73/100

tperez

I think Xigui is a region or mountain. There was also a “Bulang Caicheng” and I think one other in the box so I think Caicheng must be the vendor/factory. Maybe whoever added it to the box can shed some light

Matu

Oh, right I think I took some of the other Caicheng one too. Duh. I think it was Liquid Proust who put em in there.

Liquid Proust

Should have been a xigui and a bingdao in there. It’s the factory name as you suggest.

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76

I got this in a reddit swap – can’t remember who I swapped with really…oops! An interesting black tea, different from any others I’ve had. In my mind, I described it as if a black tea and a baozhong had a baby. The dry leaf didn’t have much of a smell, while the wet leaf smelled like steamed vegetables.

Throughout most of the session, the tea had a beany taste with a slight malty finish. For steeps 2-4 or so, there was a bit of cocoa in the finish as well. Also got a bit of milky creaminess in those steeps. Not much change through 9 steeps otherwise. An interesting and different black tea for sure.

Flavors: Beany, Cocoa, Creamy, Malt

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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79
drank Little Red by White2Tea
209 tasting notes

Good god, I’m so far behind on teaclub drinking – they generally just get tossed in to my big box/bag o’ samples, forgotten until I’m randomly digging through for something to drink. Another pretty nice black tea from W2T, though it was definitely nicer the second time, after I remembered I’ve been using 200F water instead of boiling for these ones. With boiling water the tea died quite quickly and was never particularly good. With slightly cooler water, the tea lasted about 8 steeps – pretty good for a black tea that seemed to be composed of pretty small leaf.

The leaf, both wet and dry, gave off a nice cocoa aroma.

The first two steeps were soft with notes of cocoa and malt, along with a bit of creaminess. Very friendly on the palate. On my third steep, I think I upped the time a tad too quickly and the tea got a slight musty note along with those sweeter flavors. From the fourth steep, the tea started to take on a bit of a woody note. By this time, the cocoa flavor had gone out of the tea, so the remaining few cups from this session had a woody start which became bolder and more forward as the flavor steeped out, with a sweeter malty finish that diminished over a period of multiple steeps.

This was a very drinkable tea once I used the right temperature – a decently quick session and not a tea that made me think too much. I have read other reviews indicating that this tea took a long time to steep out, but I didn’t really find that to be the case (though maybe I’m just comparing it to sheng puerh that can go 12+ steeps, I don’t know).

Flavors: Cocoa, Creamy, Malt, Musty, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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75

I got my gaiwan all ready and my water started for this tea, then opened the bag and poured…powder…out of it. Didn’t realize it was a ctc black! I didn’t really have my Western setup with me, so had to improvise with a kyusu.

The dry leaf smelled like Blackberry or prune, rum, and a bit of malt. After I put the tea in a warmed teapot, I got spicier notes, as well as some cherry and licorice.

The first steep, at 90s, was very dark in color and sorta frightened me. Thankfully it wasn’t bitter. Got woody notes and licorice along with some berry fruitiness. I also got rummy notes, and as the tea cooled, the spice became more apparent.

Second steep was 2m. It was drier and woodier with oak barrel and vanilla notes. It was also less fruity and I didn’t get any licorice.

Third steep was around 5m. It was weaker and a bit bitter, with light fruity echoes. Didn’t go beyond this, because as a ctc tea I don’t think it would have gotten any better with more steeps.

I think the best way to drink this tea would have been to Western it and just brew the fuck out of it for one good teapot of it. Maybe add small splash of milk.

Flavors: Berry, Fruity, Licorice, Malt, Oak wood, Rum

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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drank Random Steepings by Various Artists
209 tasting notes

Drank part of the Dancong cake from LP’s Mystery Group Buy. I was not a fan. It started off rather inoffensive – with some slightly grapey and floral notes. Unfortunately, within a few steeps, the tea got bitter and soapy tasting. I had to cut the session short. I might give some of this a try with lower temperature or lower steep times (though I kept the times pretty low already), but it may be hard to entice myself to drink this again.

Rating: 35/100 – Noting it here because I used Random Steepings to make my tasting note.

Rasseru

This is the problem with Dan Cong. There can be such a fine line between being nice & being yucky. It’s finding that.

Do try lower temp, 90 if you can. Also just do 1 second steeps for as many as it still tastes good. Sometimes I do a whole session flash steeping mine & they are still enjoyable & I never get that weird taste.

Others that i know taste best when the fruit has a very slight bit of that taste. It’s almost like having a slight bit of orange peel with your orange. Makes my tongue numb but the sweetness is there and it still works. Don’t give up lol

Rasseru

And some just seem to have that weird bitterness going for them & just aren’t for me.

Rasseru

Oh, fish eye boil is a good thing to aim for. When the bubbles are boiling just a little so they are the size of fish eyes, literally just starting to form the boil is a good time to use the water.

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83

Another tea from the Puerh TTB. I have never tasted anything from Awazon before, and I’ve heard mixed reviews of many of their teas. This one, I’m glad to say, was pretty tasty! It wasn’t anything special, but it was a very drinkable tea for me.

The dry leaf smelled lightly of grass or straw. After a rinse, it was full on wet hay.

First couple steeps were wet hay, almost like a wet storage taste, but not as intense – I agree with another reviewer that this has almost certainly been dry stored. The finish for these first two steeps was slightly sour and fruity. This fruity finish stayed in my mouth for a little bit after the sip – kind of like strawberries.

On the next steep, the sourish part of the finish was gone, leaving just a sweetness which I tasted as vanilla. Over the next three steeps, the tea thickened up quite nicely, with dry, sweet straw on the front with that sweet vanilla finish which, when combined with the vanilla taste, gave it a slight dairy kind of vibe.

The rest of the session was smooth and easy drinking. Texture lightened up, vanilla finish morphed into something a bit more floral, and straw note remained as well. Never really got bitter, even at the end. Pretty tasty session, but not super great. Absolutely inoffensive, tasty even. I don’t know if it’s convinced me to make an order from Awazon or anything, considering all the other nice puerh vendor options out there.

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Straw, Strawberry, Sweet, Vanilla

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

In my experience Awazon brand tea is somewhere between good and really good but usually short of phenomenal. This particular cake was not expensive. I forget what I paid but it wasn’t a lot. They also have a couple of very good house brand ripe teas that I am quite fond of.

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87
drank 2016 Head by White 2 Tea
209 tasting notes

In its youth, this tea only worked for me with 200 degree water. Sessions with boiling water were overly astringent and short-lived.

This session started out simply enough with vegetal, zucchini notes and slightly sweet finish. This lasted for about three steeps, each one getting thicker and having a longer lasting finish. The finish and lingering aftertaste were like baking spices to me, like how a house smells when you’re baking a pie. Around the fifth steep, the flavors and feelings, mainly the thickness, started coalescing and coming together beautifully. The front of the sip got less vegetal and more sweet. By the seventh steeps, the astringency which had been lingering under the sweetness was just about gone. The tea had a thick, buttery texture. A bit of a hay note was all that remained of the former vegetal notes, and the sweet finish began almost immediately and lingered for quite a while. The tea started giving up after about 13 steeps. The last couple after that were mostly astringent bitterness returning, so not entirely pleasurable.

I think the most apt word I’ve seen to describe White 2 Tea’s tea is “gestalt,” used by fellow Steepsterite moot, whose reviews I’ve been greatly enjoying the past few days. I’m not too proud to say I had to look up what word meant – essentially a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. I think that could be used to describe most of the teas I’ve tried from W2T, including this one. Having recently read some of what moot wrote about W2T, I had it in my mind while I was drinking, and when the flavor and thickness really synergized on about the fifth steep, I found myself agreeing with him on the appropriateness of his word choice.

Another good one from W2T, though I think it might be the first puerh I haven’t been able to enjoy with boiling water. I think this tea might be a little better once it gets just a bit of age on it, to take off that bitter/astringent edge. Then I could’ve used boiling water, and I bet it could’ve been even thicker!

Flavors: Butter, Hay, Spices, Thick, Vegetal, Zucchini

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML
moot

Yeah, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what might be called, for lack of a better term, “tasting note culture”. Certain old-world wines and Chinese teas seem more about this harmonious whole gestalt, where a lot of, say, American wine culture and some of the new tea culture seems to fetishize the tasting notes – the more the better. Some of the w2t stuff is so hard to describe, so about so balance of flavor and texture and other hard to describables…

moot

Which is not to say I don’t sit around talking flavor notes with my fellow tea drinkers for hours. It’s half the fun. But some of the glory of the w2t stuff really defies explanation in terms of flavor notes

Rasseru

plus they got bangin’ art style, yo

Matu

Can’t say I have enough experience with wine to agree with you on that front, and just getting my tea-legs as well. But I certainly do agree with how you’ve described W2T’s “house style.” They are very enjoyable, but I often find them hard to describe as one might in a normal tasting note.

And yes, the aesthetic value of the wrappers is part of the appeal, Rasseru :) Though I’ve still gotten mostly samples from them for now!

Rasseru

Yeah, I dont know anyone else that does comedy & tea like W2T. Its bold & I like.

Matu

Some certainly are comedic/satirical :) Others just really cool!

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80

I picked this sample up from Berylleb Tea on Ebay when I ordered a backup gaiwan. I’ve wanted to try some more Xiaguan stuff to see how it is, as I’ve enjoyed what I have had from this factory before. The leaf smelled quite smokey – I was a little worried.

Thankfully, the smokey notes did not translate into the flavor of the tea…at all! I was pretty shocked, because they were quite prominent in the nose. The flavors of this tea were decently simple and consistent. I got notes of dates with an appreciable thickness in the early steeps and a little bit of throat feel as I swallowed. A couple steeps in, the tea developed a slight floral flavor as well, maintaining a decently thick texture. In some of the later steeps, the sweetness became more honey than fruity, but the date/raisin notes returned in the last few steeps. Wasn’t a whole lot going on, but that which was there was pretty tasty. It would probably be better with age, but I find myself able to enjoy these younger factory sheng so long as they aren’t too smokey.

Flavors: Dates, Floral, Honey, Leather, Smoke

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

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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.

My favorite type of tea is sheng puerh. Particularly younger stuff, if only because I haven’t gotten the chance to taste much of anything aged. I also really like oolong (Taiwanese, Wuyi, Dancong, etc.) and Japanese Green Teas. I do also enjoy most other kinds of tea, but they aren’t what I normally buy. I’m not a huge fan of shou puerh, black tea, or flavored blends, with few exceptions.

I really like interacting with the tea community, so if you ever want to talk or swap teas or anything, feel free to shoot me a message or something. Follow me and I’ll follow you back. Probably ;)

You might also see me on reddit as /u/Matuhg

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