196 Tasting Notes
Finally trying the last of Tea Ave’s line up of scented teas, and only now do I stop to ponder… Does the name mean Tea Avenue? Or are we talking “welcome tea” and “goodbye tea”… the latin ave, as in Ave Maria?
I imagine it’s the prior but I have fun imagining it’s the latter, as it sums up my thoughts when drinking tea.
The scent of rose oolong is a bit more mild than the other tea ave teas I’ve tried. Of course there is rose, and a creamy scent from the Jin Xuan cultivar oolong. In a way, this sweet and mild combination reminds me of fruit loops breakfast cereal when smelling the leaves dry in the warm gaiwan.
The rose petals become a gorgeous magenta and float to the top while most of the tea leaves sink as I fill the gaiwan with water. The aroma of the wet leaves is really creamy with subtle rose notes. As with the other more subtle scented teas from Tea Ave, I’m not getting much fragrance from the Taiwanese aroma cup set I’m using to enjoy this tea.
The taste of this tea is very light, and has a nice subtle rose taste. I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. Most times I’ve had roses in tea, they’ve been really strong, and while I love rose, too much can sort of taste cloying. I have a horrendous headache as I’m writing this, so luckily this isn’t too fragrant or I’d be tossing it out the window!
The second infusion has quite a bit more flavor, more rosey, but still not overpowering. I really enjoy it. By the third, I’m mostly tasting the creamy Jin Xuan and not the roses. On the fourth infusion, I’m getting mild notes of high mountain foliage, the kind of taste you’d expect from great Taiwanese oolong.
I would say this tea would be ideal for someone who likes a little bit of flowers but maybe not a lot of them, because you really only taste the rose in this for a couple of infusions, and after that it’s all creamy smooth high mountain oolong. It’s a nice transition and a very subtle, relaxing comfort tea. Has helped my headache a bit.
In fact I’d say that I liked this more than some of the scented teas from Tea Ave I thought I’d love.
Here are my rankings, now that I’ve tried them all. The first two are stellar. The rest are ones I enjoy, but they didn’t leave a strong impression, as they tend to be rather subtle and require a lot of leaf if you want more than subtle.
3. Ginger Lily
6. Cape Jasmine
Flavors: Milk, Rose
In the warm gaiwan, the dry leaves smell like honey and flowers, a little bit like jasmine, but softer. The wet leaves smell quite similar.
The first infusion of this tea is so light on aroma, quite light in taste as well. I’ve been noticing with some of Tea Ave’s scented oolongs, you can use a little more tea than I’m accustomed to using. It’s hard for me to describe the flavor of this first infusion, other than to say a little similar to jasmine, so I’ll move on.
The second infusion is still a bit subtle to me. It’s a nice floral flavor, somewhat similar to jasmine. Third infusion, more of the same. It’s difficult to describe how this differs from Jasmine. There’s a bit of a flavor that leans it more toward a spice/savory kind of floral taste, sort of like saffron. It’s not as aromatic as I’m used to in most floral teas. It took about four infusions for me to taste the creamy butteryness of the Jin Xuan in this one. Not sure why. I think it’s just a lighter tea and took me a few infusions to brew it more strong. I have been brewing my oolong teas a bit lighter lately in attempt not to overpower them.
Not a bad tea, but so far the least compelling to me of the Tea Ave scented oolongs. I imagine those who have nostalgic memories of gardenias (a.k.a. cape jasmine) may enjoy this more than I did.
I must admit the instructions on the tea said to use substantially more leaf than I did, and to steep it longer than I did. I may have to try it that way and see if it yields more interesting results for me.
On the other hand, I brewed this exactly the same way I did all the other Tea Ave teas I’ve tried, and some of those got perfect 100 scores from me… so hmm.
I brewed this again using more leaf per water and the flavor is much more pronounced. It isn’t particularly different than what I had mentioned, but tastes stronger and is more enjoyable this way. :3
Flavors: Creamy, Flowers, Saffron
Alright, I’m excited to try this since this tea seems to be exclusive to Tea Ave… that is I haven’t seen any other companies in America who have tea scented with ginger lilies.
Sticking my nose into the pouch, the dry leaves smell like EGGNOG. Oh man, how I love eggnog. I’m excited. The dry leaves in the warm gaiwan smell like honey and toasted sesame. Yum. The wet leaves after the first infusion have the classic high mountain oolong aroma with a hint of gingerbread in the background. It’s faint.
The first infusion is a pale green-yellow. I’m using Taiwanese aroma cups to drink this. The aroma cup isn’t holding much scent on this infusion, and the aroma coming off the tea is very faint as well. The tea definitely has a soft hint of ginger taste. I’ve been so curious about this tea, wondering, will it just taste like ginger? Will it taste like some kind of flowery ginger? I’d say it tastes like a subtle, creamy ginger, and I do mean subtle. Though, I will say the ginger is the dominant flavor over the oolong leaves. So far the whole thing is subtle. It reminds me of banana bread a little bit, or ginger cookies.
Second infusion, the leaves still smell like high mountain oolong, mostly, with a subtle ginger hint. Again, the aroma is so subtle I’m hardly getting anything from the aroma cup. Just the faintest hint of ginger. This tea seems to be more of a flavor tea than an aromatic one, so I think from here on I’ll do slower pours, aerate it less and try to get a thicker liquor and longer aftertaste.
The second infusion tastes again rather light, but the ginger flavor emerges more, there’s an earthy quality as well, substantially less creamy taste than the other scented oolongs Tea Ave has used this Alishan Jin Xuan cultivar for, making me wonder if a lot of the creamy taste of those were coming from their respective flowers. There’s a subtle warmth to this tea like the warmth of eating ginger, but really diminished.
Alright, third infusion, still not aromatic, and still quite a subdued, delicate taste. I like it, but boy is this tea ever light. I could have probably used a larger amount of tea leaves than I usually do with this one. To be fair though, a subtle tea is not a bad thing. This tea is relaxing and has a very unique character. It’s a comfort tea, for sure.
Compared to tea that has fresh ginger added, the flavor of this is much more mellow and calm. It’s nice in that way, with a warming touch, rather than a spicy and invigorating one.
I won’t shout from the rooftops about this one. It’s good, but not particularly complex, not very dynamic from one infusion to the next. It feels a bit lacking for a high mountain oolong. On the other hand, it has an earthy, herby, very root-like flavor that isn’t terribly common in tea. I can even sense a little similarity between this taste and radish.
Good stuff. I probably won’t buy more from what I have purchased in this order, but I do enjoy it.
Flavors: Earth, Ginger, Herbs
Magnolias are one of my favorite flowers. I love how the trees just burst into color with the extravagant, large blooms with their sweet floral scent. Much like the fresh flowers, the scent of this tea is not a heady perfumey kind of floral. It’s a fruity, sweet, very candy-like one. I’m reminded of fruit candy… maybe something like lychee, when smelling the dry leaves in a warm gaiwan, I can also smell the creamy buttery scent of the Jin Xuan oolong quite strongly. The pair very well.
I’ll be fair and say I have high expectations from this tea, due to my love of magnolias and how impressive the other scented Tea Ave oolongs were that I’ve tried, so here goes! I’m nervous.
I’ll admit, the brewed leaves in the gaiwan smell like sweet kettle corn, buttery and toasty with a hint of sweetness. Wasn’t expecting that! What an interesting aroma. I’m enjoying this tea using the Tea Ave aroma cups. The scent of the first infusion is very light in the cup, a really soft floral, it lingers a little more strongly in the brewed liquor than in the aroma cup this time. The aroma and taste are both very light and just a bit fruity. It reminds me a little bit of strawberry. It blends so well with the Jin Xuan cultivar tea leaves. This is such a smooth and delicate tea. Wonderful.
On the second infusion, I can definitely smell the aroma in the aroma cup more, and it smells just like a fresh magnolia! Wow! It’s still quite delicate with aromas of dew and floral. It’s odd thinking of how jasmine tea is sort of the standard and most widely made floral scented tea. I wonder how that came to be? Because this magnolia is so much nicer than any jasmine tea I’ve had. It’s more subtle and in that sense so much more perplexing and tasty. Maybe magnolia flowers are simply more difficult or expensive to grow and use for scenting. Who knows.
By the third infusion, the wet leaves smell like white pepper, which happens to have a buttery scent to it to if you go grab some of the dry powder and (carefully) smell some of it. The taste is more of the same flavors as before, perhaps with a bit more of the vegetal taste of the oolong and a little bit less of the sweet floral.
I am trying to kick the habit of writing long reviews other than for teas that change dramatically from one infusion to the next well into the late infusions, so I’ll end this here so I can go and enjoy the tea. I will update if I notice anything really different, but with most floral scented teas the flavor is pretty consistent between infusions, so as far as the specific notes you may find in this tea, I think I’ve covered my bases.
100/100! This is my favorite floral scented tea I’ve had at this point. Great stuff!
Infusion times: 45, 25, 20, 25, 30, 45, 60
On my second time with this tea I got really strong notes of butterscotch in both the scent and flavor. Not sure how I missed that the first time. It was like butterscotch cookies or schnapps. My friend thought the same.
Flavors: Butter, Butterscotch, Cream, Flowers, Kettle Corn, Lychee, Pepper, Strawberry
I feel like I’ve been adding a lot of teas to the database lately, which is fun.
This one comes from Taiwan Tea Crafts and is their top grade Oriental Beauty tea for 2014. The leaves are very curly and beautiful, look very delicate, and these have been cared for and packaged very well. They all retain a beautiful shape without broken leaves.
The scent of the rinsed leaves is just bursting with flowers, apples, and honey, maybe even plums. There’s a lot of sweet fruit and flower scents going on. It’s almost a sort of sangria of teas. The aroma of the tea is really honeyed and with hints of autumn leaf and spice. I tend to get a similar scent impression with Oriental Beauty and White Peony, though the former is often much sweeter than the latter.
The taste is sweet and honey-like, really clean and mouth-filling. It’s got the same hints of autumn leaves and subtle cinnamon spice that the aroma does, while the aroma is more floral. Oddly, there are hints of lemon, or even more accurately, lime, in the taste as the tea cools off a bit.
The second infusion smells even more floral. The taste reminds me of dried fruit now. There are still some spice notes, still a very clean mouthfeel and slight cooling sensation to follow.
After just a couple infusions of this, I am feeling a really euphoric relaxed feeling. I feel like my body is very light and relaxed. Mmmm.
I have to admit I got really hungry and took a break to eat here, so my palate is nowhere near sensitive enough after those first two infusions to keep going from there with an accurate review. Mostly I’m getting the spice, earth, and autumn leaf notes at this point.
I have only had maybe two other Oriental Beauty teas before this one, and of the three I’ve had, I would say this one was the best. It had more complexity and was much more fragrant in surprising ways. I can’t say Oriental Beauty is a particular favorite tea of mine, but It’s an interesting one. I’m much more partial to Gui Fei. Funny how that works cuz I have another friend who hates Oriental Beauty but Gui Fei is one of her favorites. You’d think they’d be similar since they both involve bugs biting them in the growing process to give them their sweet honey-like flavors, but I think varietal makes a big difference in flavor.
This is good stuff. Give it a try if you like Bai Hao. I think you won’t be disappointed!
Brewed in a 100ml Gongfu pot with 5g of leaf, 15 sec infusion at 185/85. Short infusions of ~10 sec to follow, gradually increasing.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Flowers, Honey, Lime, Spices
Awesome, another Obubu tea that had yet to be added to the directory. I’m happy to be the first reviewer.
The leaves of this sencha are very tightly rolled and very deep, dark green. I’m brewing about 3g per 100 ml of water in a Tokoname-ware Kyusu. I added 5C degrees each infusion. Half the time on second infusion, then increasing from there.
The scent of the warm leaves in the kyusu reminds me of sweet grass and foliage. As the leaves brew, they have immediately changed to a very bright emerald green. The brewed leaves smell more vegetal and still quite sweet. The tea liquor is a bold yellow, just a tinge green.
The flavor is intense, with a really rich umami and sweetness. There is only a slight bitterness in the finish. A difficult flavor to describe, there’s a bit of a fruity tanginess to it, like berries. I can definitely taste notes of melon, and there are subtle hints of mint or camphor in the aroma. The sweetness and umami of this tea really linger in my mouth, making me salivate quite a bit.
There is a top note that hits just a little bit strong, and combining with the bitterness tastes a bit soapy. It’s not overwhelming, but it could be offputting for some people. The second infusion is a little more bitter than the first, and has a definite melon note.
The third infusion is lighter, sweet and with less bitterness. More of the same flavors.
All in all, a really unique and interesting sencha, definitely one of the best I’ve had from Obubu if you’re not opposed to a bit of refreshing bitterness. This is one I will more than likely purchase again.
Flavors: Berry, Bitter, Melon, Sweet, Umami, Vegetal
Oh man, am I excited for this tea! Also excited that I could put up the page for this tea and be the first to review it. This is a new offering from Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms, a wonderful company that I’ve had the pleasure of trying many green teas from. They also produce Sakurayu, a tea made from preserved cherry blossoms. Traditionally, the flowers are preserved in plum vinegar and then heavily salted for storage. This time, Obubu has tried doing that with sugar to create a more delicate and sweet drink. This is an experimental tea, so they haven’t made many batches of it yet. Their method for preserving the flowers this way is something new, so it seems they’ve been a bit secretive about it. They have not mentioned if they still use plum vinegar, but judging from the smell of the flowers when dry, I believe they still have.
I am enjoying these in a small 70ml porcelain gaiwan. I’ve put two flowers in and filled it with water at 90C/194F, per their suggestion. Let it sit for a minute or two and watch the beautiful pink blossoms open up.
I’ve had the salted version Obubu makes and I really enjoy them. The method for making them is to soak the flowers in some warm to hot water to remove the salt. The salty brine resulting is kept on the side while the flowers are brewed in fresh hot water, then the brine can be spooned back in to the tea to a little at a time to make it salty to your preference. I’ve tried it with plenty of the salt and with only very little of the salt, and also rinsing all of the salt I could out of it. Additionally I’ve tried it with rinsing all the salt away and then using a bit of sugar, and that was my favorite method of enjoying it. A hint of sugar brings out the taste of the plum vinegar and cherry flowers. Overall the taste is a delicate floral, plum, and cherry combination.
What they’ve done with this new batch of tea preserved in sugar basically takes all that work out of the process of making it. I can just put two of the sugared flowers into a cup and pour the hot water in and I’m good to go.
The taste is the same as before but without any traces of saltiness. The flowers open up beautifully and the infusion is just a very pale pink/yellow tint. The aroma is more floral while the flavor is a bit more sweet and fruity.
I have to say I really enjoy this. There’s a part of me that likes just the little hint of salt that I get from rinsing the traditional version and then adding a bit of sugar to them on my own, but the result is fairly similar and this is much more convenient without the salt.
I did not stir this sweet sakura tea after putting the water in, so as I drank the gaiwan full, the tea got sweeter and sweeter toward the bottom of the cup, becoming very dessert like in the last few sips. I really enjoyed this experience, as it started very light and got stronger as I drank, but I also feel it would be delicious to just stir it from the start to make the tea evenly sweet.
I am curious how long these flowers will last preserved in sugar instead of salt, however.
There is a date on the package marked in this way:
賞味期限（shōmikigen）– best if eaten by date (safe to eat, but the flavour is not as fresh). The date listed is 4/30/2015
It’s April 3 now, so that’s not too far off. With the salted variety, the blossoms can easily last up to 2 years if stored properly.
These flowers are, of course, edible. I ate them after brewing the tea. Aside from the floral taste, which is light, they have a fresh leafy taste that reminded me a bit of a light parsley flavor, perhaps a bit like cucumber.
I really enjoyed this tea and I hope Obubu continues to make it. I wonder if it will be a seasonal offering since the preserved blossoms do not necessarily last as long with sugar instead of salt. In the mean time, I want to give this tea a high rating because it is delicious and delicate, very beautiful to look at, inviting and relaxing, all the things a tea should be. I hope they continue to produce this!
Flavors: Cherry, Flowers, Plums
The leaves of this tea are rather large and winding. After letting them sit in a hot gongfu teapot for a minute they smell heavily of stone fruits, mostly cherry and plum, and ocean air.
The rinsed leaves yield a very, very strong stonefruit smell and a scent of orchids with a hint of eucalyptus. The first infusion is a gorgeous amber color and smells sweet like honey and oats. As it cools, I’m getting more of a fruit and spice scent.
The first infusion is incredibly sweet and fruit-like, just a hint of malt and lingering spice on the back end. The mouthfeel is very clean and the tea leaves a lingering cooling sensation on the tongue and throat.
The second infusion smells more cherry or grape-like. While the body of this tea is somewhat thin and the texture is a bit dry, it makes for a very complex and interesting pairing with the sweet fruity flavors and the cooling almost minty sensation it produces. This infusion tastes like tart cherries with a light wood note. The dryness on the tongue lingers, but there is no dryness in the throat. It still feels very clean. This is not an astringent kind of dryness. It’s more like drinking a dry red wine.
The leaves as they open up are a gorgeous ruddy copper color. The third infusion again smells like stone fruits. The sip starts out sweet and finishes dry, hints of honey and malt accompanying. The mouthfeel is as clean as ever.
By the fourth infusion, in some ways I would say this tea reminds me more of an Indian black tea than a Chinese red tea, though it is almost like a curious mixture of the two. The drying quality reminds me a lot more of Indian tea, as well as the berry-like fruit flavors, but then the sweetness and the mellow honey and malt type flavors remind me more of Chinese red tea. That minty tingle is unlike most red teas I’ve ever had and really makes this one intriguing.
I’m going to end my review here, but if anything really different emerges in later infusions I’ll update. This is a really cool tea and one that I’d recommend for red/black tea lovers. It’s got a really complex balance, a duality of sweet and dry.
I think this tea feels more clean than any other red/black tea I’ve had.
Flavors: Cherry, Eucalyptus, Honey, Malt, Plums, Wood
The leaves from this raw Puer cake are very dark brown and black. It already looks very well aged even though the leaves are only from 4-5 years ago.
The dry leaves in a warm Gongfu teapot (100ml) smell first and fore most like leather or dried meat, a secondary scent that I get if I inhale very deeply is menthol. After a rinse, the wet leaves have a very complex and strong aroma. The smell is of prunes, wood, and a musty forest floor kind of smell like you’d expect from aged Puer.
The brewed liquor is a deep golden yellow. The aroma is of croissant dough. As it cools it begins to smell more like cake batter and there is also a slight aroma of menthol just like before.
Whoa. The flavor is very nice. Tastes like pie crust, a hint of vanilla, a lingering aftertaste of fig. That is not at all what I was expecting! And that was just from the rinse infusion.
The second infusion smells more strongly of menthol. The wet leaves have a nice spiced aroma to them. The flavor still reminds me of pie crust with hints of fig, vanilla, and spice. There’s a little bit of wood as well. It’s got a very creamy texture.
Have you ever had a Necco wafer? Because that’s what the third infusion smells like, menthol and powdered sugar, sort of. The taste is very mouth-filling, very mild. This tea lingers on the light end of the flavor spectrum, vanilla, dough, minerals… it doesn’t have the woody, leafy green powerful note of many other Puer teas.
The fourth infusion tastes a bit deeper and mellow, some hints of wood peaking through.
The fifth infusion brings more of the rich, smooth vanilla bean flavor. This tastes like a flavored tea or specialty tea drink from a coffee shop that you could get in the winter time, like a tea latte.
There has not been any bitterness at all in tasting this tea.
After the sixth infusion, a lingering taste of pepper stays in my mouth.
Seventh, a little bit of menthol is coming through in the flavor.
Eighth, the flavor is quite a bit lighter. Ninth, the same, even after infusing for a full minute or so. Tenth, I let it sit a few minutes. Tasted a lot like dried fruit but with some bitterness coming in at the end.
I didn’t really add much time to each infusion. Each one was about 10-15 seconds long, other than the last few.
I’d say so far this was the second best tea I’ve tried from WYMM Tea, the first being their Mangnuo Cane Tea. Their selection may be small right now, but you can be sure you’re getting the quality you pay for. I respect that in a tea company much more than when one has a huge selection of hit-and-miss teas. I am eager to see how WYMM Tea grows as a company. They have started with such a great lineup of unique and delicious Puer teas.
Flavors: Creamy, Dried Fruit, Fig, Menthol, Pastries, Vanilla
The leaves of this cake are deep olive green and brown. In a warm gongfu sized teapot (100ml) they have an earthy smell that quite reminds me of the aroma of ripe puer. After a rinse, the leaves smell like forest floor, pepper, a hint of leather, and night air in dry grasslands, a scent you’ll be very familiar with if you grew up among them. There are hints of wildflowers.
I decided to brew this tea at 194F/90C rather than my usual 203F/95C for raw puer. With young raw puer, brewing it at this slightly lower temperature really softens the flavor and keeps the bitterness most young raw puer has at bay.
Mostly, the scent I’m getting from the rinse infusion is of sweet dough. The color of the liquid is a muted peach. The flavor is very mouth-filling and rich. It tastes leafy and a bit woody, but more on the leafy side. There’s a really nice earthiness to it, and it is mild on the palate, almost sweet, but not quite. As it cools, the flavor is more like vanilla bean and mineral. The taste really lingers after a sip.
Jingmai is a tea producing region I am very fond of. I have only had a few teas from there now, but every one I’ve had has been really special and of such distinguished quality. The terroir there produces some flavors you just can’t replicate elsewhere.
The second infusion of this tea offers a bit more of a peppery note in the taste, and hints of bitterness, but overall the flavor is very smooth just like the first. Again, I’m quite impressed by how this tea seems to hit the palate all at once, but in a very mild way.
So far, the flavor of this tea is not changing drastically from one infusion to the next. It’s a pretty straightforward woodsy puer, but it has a really nice calmness to it. Like the other teas I’ve had from WYMM Tea, this one has a very clean taste. I imagine this would be a great one for those who like a nice woodsy/herbaceous raw puer. As I steep this further, a little note of floral emerges, but it is subtle. By about the fifth steeping there’s a subtle note of citrus, and this continues on through the later steepings.
All in all, a really agreeable Puer. While this one didn’t have quite the exciting and unique flavor notes I’m used to from Jingmai Puer, it did teach me more about the diversity of flavors in that area, and this was a solid, really nice Puer, one I kept wanting to drink and not put down.
Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Forest Floor, Mineral, Pepper, Vanilla