75 Tasting Notes
Well my 75th review should be for something special, and this tea is certainly that. This was certainly an interesting blast from the past. I was 6 when this tea was produced.
I had the honor of sharing this sample with a friend and we both had a very similar impression of the flavor, so I feel confident in relaying our observations.
The first steep yielded a very distinct dill flavor. In fact it was almost briny like pickle brine! Whaaaaat? There were of course the expected roasted and leafy qualities of oolong, but a pickle-like flavor stood out to us the most.
On the second infusion some more nuances emerged, sort of a toasted sesame flavor and a light sweetness. It has been a while since we enjoyed this tea together and I am going off of notes here that I recently found lying around, so I didn’t really log down my reactions to any later steepings, but I remember each infusion getting milder and more on the sweet roasty side while the dill and brine flavors backed off.
It was really interesting to me, also strange seeing how much different people’s impressions of it were here on Steepster. I’d have never described it with some of the notes some others did, but I guess we all taste and remember tastes differently. :3
Flavors: Dill, Roasted, Vinegar
This is my first White Peony experience outside of Shang Tea, owned by Zehua Shang, who specializes in white tea, has won pretty high awards for his White Peony, and farms the tea himself, so his tea is direct from the source to the customer. Thus, beware of my bias.
That said, I’ve never felt compelled to purchase Bai Mudan from any other vendors since Shang’s is top notch, and even better I live near the store so I can go and purchase it firsthand and enjoy some tea with the awesome employees. This Rishi white tea only landed in my cupboard because I was at a local grocer to try samples of some loose teas they had in bulk bins. I saw this and thought I’d give it a try since I could sample it very cheap this way.
After a steep or two, the leaves are very green and smell perfumy. I drank the first steeping before starting my review, so my review will start with the second. I am brewing this Gongfu style. This infusion is more yellow than the last, which was a bit pale.
The aroma of the liquor is lightly floral and I’m picking up hints of camphor, to my surprise. The flavor is smooth and lightly green with just a touch of nectar-like sweetness. There are very subtle green and juicy notes like a fresh cucumber. As it cools more and as I get into the third infusion and beyond, there is a copper-like mineral taste, subtle, but there.
The flavor overall is somewhat soft though, bordering on too soft, even after allowing the tea to cool some. I know not all teas are created equal, but I’m using the same amount of leaf I always have with White Peony. I think perhaps I’ve been spoiled on amazing white tea and now that I’m trying one from a less-specialized vendor (meaning their company doesn’t have a specific specialty for white tea), I am seeing now why so many people claim that white tea “tastes like nothing” to them. Indeed, if this white tea from Rishi is more indicative of what white tea is like outside of the high-end vendors, I can see that white teas can be very subtle. I have had a few silver needle teas from sources other than Shang Tea and some were very lacking in flavor or depth, while others were quite robust, so I guess the amount of flavor in white tea can really vary.
While I don’t think this White Peony from Rishi is particularly complex or thick in flavor, I do think it is good, and I think that for the mid-range loose tea market it is a good offering. If you aren’t looking to pay top dollar for your white tea or are looking for the convenience of being able to purchase it at some grocers nearby (currently I only know of Whole Foods selling this, but there may be others), this tea is worth the money. The flavor is pleasant and mild. It was a pleasant experience to drink it, and biases aside, I feel happy to have drank it.
Flavors: Camphor, Cucumber, Nectar, Perfume
This is a great green tea. It has a bit of a dry mouthfeel, but to be fair, the one I tried was from a little sample my friend gave me and has been in a tiny plastic ziplock for quite some time, so it hasn’t been exactly stored in the most optimal conditions.
The flavor of this green tea is very creamy and soft. There are some light vegetal and nutty tones. The smell is lightly sweet. It’s got a bit of a pecan praline vibe to it and as the tea cools it becomes even more enjoyably sweet. The second steep is even more sweet and mellow than the first, with possibly a hint of unsweetened coconut flavor. This is quite a soft tea and offers some unique qualities from my other experiences with green tea.
Flavors: Cookie, Cream, Nuts, Pecan, Sweet, Vegetal
This green tea struck me as interesting because if it hadn’t been labeled I probably would not have known it was a green tea just by looking at it. It looks more like a raw loose Puer or some other dark tea. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it tastes more like a raw Puer than a green tea. It’s rather on the dark and earthy side for a green tea. The notes are very nutty, with green bean and a bit of black pepper. This doesn’t have the brighter vegetal notes of most green teas and I was almost expecting a roasted flavor to accompany it, but it didn’t exactly. This tea is not suited to my tastes in green tea. I am sure others will find it more interesting.
Flavors: Earth, Green Beans, Nutty, Pepper
I could swear I have reviewed this before… I’ve had this tea quite a while now, and though I had some technical difficulties when I was first learning to brew it, I feel I’ve definitely figured out my preferred method to get the most of the tea without making an overpowered cup. I have gone through quite a few shifts in the method I use to brew red/black teas in the gongfu style before I found one that really worked great for me.
Anyway, this is one of the best red teas I’ve had. There’s an interesting light floral quality to the scent resting atop some darker notes of earth, baked bread, cocoa, forest floor, and yam. The darker, mustier qualities are well balanced by a lightness that comes through in the flavor as yam and honey. The tea is tangy with a hint of bitterness on the back-end like dark chocolate or coffee, but to be fair I brew this a bit on the full-bodied side, while I’ve noticed most practitioners of Gongfu Cha I’ve met will brew red teas more on the light side, making a honey-colored liquor rather than a red one. That tends to yield more of the subtle notes present in a red tea. I prefer a bit more strength since repeated infusions will eventually yield a lighter liquor anyway. Not that this tastes exactly the same as if you had brewed it light to begin with, but it’s similar.
On a final note, I absolutely love the tin design and its designation as a “Year of the Horse” tea. I know A&D have done some teas like this before and I really am eager to see what comes out next year for the Year of the Goat. My only complaint is that the tin is basically a small paint can, so you will need something handy to pry the lid off if you purchase a tea tin from these guys. I keep a quarter resting atop the lid as it works well to do the trick and doesn’t take up any extra space while the tin is in the cupboard.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Earth, Floral, Forest Floor, Honey, Yams
I haven’t reviewed on Steepster in a bit, so I figured I’d write a new one.
This Master Grade Tie Guanyin has all the makings of a Tie Guanyin, the buttery vegetal quality, the foresty and floral notes typical of Taiwanese high mountain oolong. As Tie Guanyins go, this one registers on the softer and more mellow side of the scale. There’s a gentle (and I really mean gentle) honey sweetness to it and a really soft vegetal flavor, reminding me slightly of spinach and zucchini. It is definitely floral. I can see the ideas others have offered of orchid or honeysuckle, but they are not quite on the mark from what I’m getting. Anyway, it’s hard to attribute other flavors to a tea in any case, so those are probably close enough, maybe a bit of a jasmine-like quality is there too.
What’s odd to me about this tea is that it is the Master Grade variant Tie Guanyin that Yezi offers, and it has less prominent and memorable qualities to me than the High Grade Tie Guanyin, which is a step down in grade and pricing. I’ve drank both today, so I have them fresh in memory to compare. Where the High Grade had the unmistakable scent of holiday spices and hints of camphor, the Master Grade is more round and no flavor or scent sticks out to me distinctly. It does seem more buttery than the other.
If it comes to personal recommendation though, I actually prefer the High Grade to this one as I think the “spiced” quality and camphor notes are what make that one really wonderful to me.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Forest Floor, Honey, Vegetal
One of China’s 10 Famous Teas on many iterations of the list, Liu An Gua Pian is also called “Melon Seed” tea because the puffy leaves look like melon seeds.
The flavor and scent are both incredibly sweet at first. There’s a lot of vegetation and grassy taste and the usual hints of green bean you get in a lot of chinese green teas. The taste is really nice and complex with a hint of mineral in the background. I am not in the mental state to flesh this out with notes today, but I do like the tea a lot and think that it is a pretty unique tasting green tea. I overbrewed it a bit the first time using my usual green-tea steeping parameters, so you may need to use slightly less leaf or time than usual.
EDIT: Teavivre recommends 3g per 85ml water for 30 seconds if you are brewing gongfu style, then adding 30 seconds each time. That sounded a bit strong for my tastes so I used 3g in a 100ml gaiwan for 15 seconds, adding 5 each time and got really incredible results.
Flavors: Grass, Green Beans, Mineral, Sweet
Okay, tried a new brewing method with this one! Aaaaand I overbrewed it… just a little… add some hot water. Now it’s just fine. Hehehe.
I am picking up a lot of sort of smokey flavor in this one. It reminds me a lot of a Jun Shan Yin Zhen I’ve had before. It’s delicate and a little bit sweet and has a strong aroma and flavor of green beans and spinach. I am not gonna go into too much detail here because Amanda’s review is very well written and covers pretty much the same points.
Flavors: Broth, Green Beans, Smoke, Spinach, Sweet
This Shou Mei has a surprising smoky, earthy taste to it, with hints of spice.
By the second steeping it has mellowed out some, with a subtle sweetness similar to dried fruit and slightly earthy gourd-like flavor.
I am not terribly experienced with a diversity of white teas, as a local company here specializes in white teas and has many award-winning offerings that are of wonderful quality, so I do not shop around for white teas much. Thus, I will not rate this one. I find the flavor agreeable but would not likely purchase it.
Just popping into say something short and sweet about this tea.
It tastes like cake icing and cake. Well done! The array of leaves and flowers is beautiful and festive. It makes me feel like it’s my birthday when I sit down to drink it. I feel special.
It’s not my usual cup of tea to drink flavored tisanes, but this one is nice if you like this type of flavor. Myself, whenever I see something flavored like something I like better, it just makes me want the something better… i.e. spare me the caramel creme brulee coffee creamer and give me some caramel creme brulee! Or… rather than cake flavored tea… give me some tea!
I mostly requested this sample out of curiosity and because it is beautiful. But… if for some reason I couldn’t eat cake… maybe for dietary or health reasons, I feel like this drink would satisfy my craving more than not having anything at all. I’d drink it on my birthday!
Flavors: Cake, Frosting