9 Tasting Notes
I thought long and hard for two months before getting this tea. Finally got it last Christmas at $10.58 for 50 grams. Dialing back from Darjeeling Tea Boutique’s strong summer and autumn flush offerings, this cup was very subtle. At 4 minutes (the company recommends 7), there’s just a slight puckering of the tongue and no astringency (in the sense of bitterness). The colour in my cup kind of matches “jonquil” (I googled it just to check).
Very subtle. Or maybe it’s because I haven’t been practising my tea tasting recently. Shame on me! It’s got a… I’m not quite sure if it’s a vanilla-ish taste, or… if it’s a “tea” taste, if that makes any sense. I mean I’ve tasted that taste before, I’m not quite sure when. But it’s this underlying flavour I tend to pick up from TWG’s teas underneath their various blend flavourings.
So I guess it’s the purest “tea” taste.
That’s all I seem to be getting from this. And yet, that seems to be all I want. Maybe it’s a placebo effect of it being “white tea” or something, haha. I’ll be saving up for their Yin Zhen next time. It’s almost 60 bucks for 50 grams. But I really could tell the difference, looking into those two canisters.
The latter was nothing but beautiful white buds. Can’t wait to try it out.
But as for this one, definitely worth it. I’ll have to come back to it in the future, see what tastes I can get out of it. Once again, it reminds me how much I still have to learn about tea tasting.
Flavors: Tea, Vanilla
So having tasted this, I think I now know what the fabled muscatel flavour is. It turns out it was the indescribable, most prominent note that I tasted in the 2013 Giddhapahar autumnal that I bought last year.
The smell of the dry leaf, though similar to the 2013 autumnal, is at the same time unique, carrying a hint of sweetness that I don’t quite pick up in the autumnal.
Astringency is very gentle, barely noticeable as a puckering on my tongue. Though as the cup empties, it slowly accumulates to become more evident.
Tastewise, I don’t think I’m that yet qualified to differentiate between the two. They’re both flowery and musk-like. I’ll leave it at that for now, at least until I can better tell the difference.
Flavors: Flowers, Muscatel
The first of a six pack that I got from Darjeeling Tea Boutique. I ordered two, but got four free samples! How awesome is that?
When I first opened the pack and took a whiff, I was pleasantly surprised at how differently the dry leaves smelled compared to the black autumn flush Giddapahar that I’d ordered last year. The latter was very strong, almost overwhelming in a strange scent that I couldn’t (and still can’t) quite put my finger on. But it’s definitely unique.
This one also smelled rather strong, but in a way that I could almost immediately recognize as sweetness. A sweet, strong scent that wasn’t so much overpowering as it was intoxicating. I knew I had to taste it (well of course, since I’d already opened it lol!).
My electric kettle broke down a while back, so I had to settle with the stove and a saucepan. Put in half a teaspoon of leaves – didn’t want to use too much – into my 350ml teapot, and let it steep for 2 and a half minutes.
Poured it out. Wasn’t green. Probably because my water was too hot. Tasted it. Mild, of course. Pleasantly mild, reminds me of the raw puehr I had last year. I think I’m going to have to steep more leaves to get more taste out of this, but this is very nice by itself.
Very very mild, almost barely noticeable astringency at the end, just a puckering of the tongue rather than any kind of bitterness. I’ll probably have to drop the temperature and increase the amount of leaves next time, but this is really good.
Second cup was of course a lot more astringent because I left the leaves in, but I made sure to mix in enough water to cool it down and slow the… whatever process that releases tannins. Kept it steeping while I drank the first cup. Apparently it didn’t slow down enough, because now my mouth is a lot more puckered.
No bitterness, though. I’ll update this when I try doing it under better conditions, haha.
Flavors: Nectar, Sweet
So in accordance with a suggestion that was made to me a few months back when I asked about TWG Teas, I decided that instead of asking for opinions on the company, I’d stick my neck out and try their tea myself.
I went for a breakfast tea within the price range of below 7 USD / 50g. There were four: London Breakfast, Mediterranean Breakfast, Royal Breakfast, and… forgot the last one. Anyway, the Mediterranean had whole leaves, beautiful things. However, and this might be my tea noob nose, but I couldn’t tell the difference between it and the other three. This one stood out, in a very good way. The smell was… very sweet. In retrospect, it might remind me of Heart of the Old Tree, but a lot mellower.
When I asked about that, the clerk said it was a blend – Chocolate, apparently – and that it was popular with the ladies because of that. While I really liked the look of the whole leaf Mediterranean breakfast, the intoxicating scent of this broken leaf blend won the day.
I bought a pack – the tea parlour felt like I stepped back in time. They used a balancing scale with cylindrical metal weights to measure it. When I commented offhandedly about the use of such “ancient” equipment, my dad told me that these weights are actually more accurate than digital scales or something. I dunno. He’s a doctor. Maybe he knows. I asked about filters because it was broken up and I was worried they’d get past the spoon I use to filter my whole leaf teas. Offered to sell me a reusable cotton one for ~5 bucks, but I decided against it. Figured I’d use a kitchen strainer.
In any case, I steeped it up. Used the Chinese eyeballing method (because dedicated tea thermometers are probably expensive) and set it to “fish eye-sized”. Set my tea timer to 2:30, but between walking from the kitchen counter to the PC and typing in the URL on my browser, I’m betting it took another 30 seconds.
Quarter teaspoon of tea.
Poured myself two cups (one with milk, one pure).
Pure: It has that marvellous scent, still strong. Sort of… roasted, now that I think about it. Roasted chocolate, then? Zero astringency. Rolling it around my tongue, very smooth. Again, zero astringency. I might even call it… dare I say, flat? Did I do something wrong? Still, it’s rather interesting. The lack of astringency is very interesting, if strange…
Ah, no, there it is. Just a mild, barely noticeable drying, only with the cup almost empty.
Second cup is darker, came from the lower half of the pot. Put in some milk, maybe a tsp. Comes off as very caramel-ish now… almost like drinking evaporated milk. It’s funny to say this, but apparently the tea was overpowered by the milk?
I’m guessing it’s probably because I have a habit of stingily using less than half a teaspoon of tea for a whole 350ml teapot.
Still, I think I’ll have it without milk, unless I start using full doses.
Overall a little flat, but I think that’s because I use much less tea than recommended, and steep for less time. Give it a try anyway.
Flavors: Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Roasted, Sweet
So it’s not really the first time I’ve tried Wild Monk, but I guess I just forgot to report it the first time. The sweetish, familiar scent that I couldn’t pinpoint before… now that I’ve had the time to properly think and meditate on it, I was reminded of a time back in high school during our senior retreat, when as part of our trip, we visited a cigar factory. As I don’t smoke, that was the only time I was ever exposed to this scent before trying out this Wild Monk…
Reminds me of tobacco. Now, I always found that scent of tobacco quite alluring. I just have health concerns over smoking. So! This tea? It’s a godsend. I can enjoy something that tastes like tobacco, without having to smoke. And dare I say, again, it’s very sweet. It’s my second steeping now. Should be good to keep me up until I finish helping out with my niece’s first birthday party.
Thanks for this great sample, Garret! :)
Flavors: Smoke, Sweet, Tobacco
One of the two samplers Garret sent to go with Heart of the Old Tree. Earthy flavour. Gives me a nice little tingly feeling in my nose with each sip. Taste-wise, even after 3 and a half minutes, there’s no astringency. It’s earthy. I’m also picking up some kind of… seafood? Can’t quite pin exactly what kind of seafood, either… but it’s not “fishy”. Kind of… shrimpy, or squiddy, or… can I suggest those as flavours?
I close my eyes and take a sip and it brings me to a seaside fiesta, where all the richness of the local community is laid out on a banquet table, ready to be eaten and celebrated. Lovely thoughts.
I guess I really still need to mature as a tea taster to best appreciate this. The flavours aren’t something I can readily identify as immediately as the Heart of Old Tree Shu (and even then, it’s “Sweet” rather than a specific kind of sweet). That said, I now know what kind of tea I want to have with my next seafood trip. And I LOVE seafood. :)
(On a sidenote, I did some scientific testing with my measuring cup, and it turns out my teapot is 350ml, NOT 500.)
My first Pu’er, courtesy of Garret. The family gathered around for this one, so I brought out the teapot and yeah. I don’t have a gong fu set, so we had them in western-sized cups. First thing I noticed was that despite the minute amount of leaf we put in (a lot less than 1 tsp) and the proportionally big amount of water (around 350ml), it still smelled sweet.
It tasted sweet too, in a nice, very subtle kind of way. Compared to the Darjeeling, which has a stronger flavour, say… it’s more of a punch, actually, this sweetness is, as I said, very subtle. I can’t quite place the exact KIND of sweetness, and I’m tempted to say “caramel”, but then that would just be parroting the official description. So I’ll stick to plain and simply, “sweet”. I’m at the third steeping now, and it still tastes sweet.
Suffice it to say that this is only my third tea. Hopefully I’ll be able to better express my findings as my collection grows. And hopefully, as time goes by, I’ll be able to better appreciate this little treasure cake, especially since it gets better the older it gets.
I just got my order off a seller from AliExpress. Powder smells like orchid of some kind. Certainly fragrant. Interesting taste. Got a certain grassy astringency while leaving an orchid-like aftertaste… heck it actually reminds me of a local (Philippine) flower called Sampaguita.
Product description page cites source as an “Orient Tea Co” based in Guangdong, that’s all I got on it. My first matcha so I can’t compare it to any established names. But I really like the flowery aftertaste.
Flavors: Astringent, Cut grass, Flowers, Orchid