189 Tasting Notes

64

After infusing, the tea smells very nutty and vegetal, like green beans

The brewed tea is a sort of yellow-green color, kind of sickly looking if I’m being honest. The scent is quite umami and reminds me of gyokuru. The flavor is unique. It has a flash of bitterness, but an agreeable kind and underneath that is a rich bed of umami with very green and vegetal tones, and some hints of herb and mushroom.

On the second infusion, the flavor is dramatically different, much more mellow and subdued, more sweet and nutty. I imagine this is because most of the matcha was poured and drank in the first infusion. There’s a bit of a sour tang in the finish.

The third infusion is even more subtle and tastes something like green beans and nuts. There’s a little saltiness as well. I got this sample from an acquaintance, so I can’t say how old it is, and it certainly hasn’t been properly stored for a Japanese green tea since I got it. I have had it in a little plastic bag just sitting in a box of other samples for months, so I imagine I am not experiencing this tea in its ideal state of freshness. I’ll lean a little higher on my rating to account for that.

I don’t know if matcha-laced teas are really my thing. I’ve only had a couple now. I enjoy sencha because most I have had are very calming and don’t have an intense feeling from caffeine. Adding matcha to the tea makes it seem more invigorating and gives me more of the sensation of caffeine rush, so I don’t particularly enjoy that. This wasn’t a bad tea. The flavor was nice, but it’s not really something I prefer… a little too “edgy” for me, I think.

Flavors: Bitter, Green Beans, Nuts, Umami

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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100
drank Osmanthus Oolong by Tea Ave
189 tasting notes

I have had a few Osmanthus oolong teas before and while I enjoy the fragrance, I had trouble enjoying the flavor. They were cloyingly sweet. That said, I’m going to give this one a chance and see what happens.

The dry leaves in a warm gaiwan smell heavily of sweet flowers and bright orange fruit like oranges or apricots. There are also hints of milky cream scent from the Jin Xuan cultivar used in this tea. Orange cream-sickle anyone?

I am using a Taiwanese aroma cup set to enjoy this tea. The scent is even more decadent coming out of the aroma cup, very creamy and fruity, very sweet and honey-like.

The first infusion is pale yellow. Surprisingly, the flavor that comes through the most in the drink is the creamy taste of the oolong itself. The floral sweetness comes in as a refreshingly sweet aftertaste. The mouthfeel of this tea, just like all the others I’ve tried from Tea Ave so far, is exceptionally smooth and clean, very crisp, not drying at all.

The aroma from the second steeping is really just impressing me to no end. Is this really osmanthus tea? Haha. It smells like oranges and cream. I am melting a little bit every time I sniff it. The liquor is a little more yellow this time, but still on the pale side. The flavor is wonderfully sweet and mellow. There is nothing cloying about this tea at all, nothing soapy, nothing bitter, nothing that tastes artificial. Wow!

By the third infusion, I almost can’t imagine having this tea without an aroma cup. The way the scent lingers in there and is just so rich and concentrated… it’s incredibly invigorating and relaxing both at once. This is great. Sure the scent is good off the drinking cup too, but it’s a little different, and not as potent. The flavor this time is incredibly rich and smooth. Wow.

Tea Ave, you have made a believer of me. I look forward to trying your entire selection of loose teas. I think this company could really go far! Osmanthus is a tea I haven’t even liked in the past, and of the three samples you’ve sent, this one is my favorite! Wow! I am just so impressed! The flavors of the oolong and the osmanthus flowers really complement each other, a perfect yin and yang. I don’t taste one more than the other. This is brilliant. Kudos to the farmers and staff who produced this tea!

I was going to end this review here, but made a 4th infusion while I was finishing up, and goodness, I can’t take how good this is! Few teas put me in a tea frenzy like this. This is good stuff! The sweetness lingers in your mouth for such a long time.

Flavors: Apricot, Cream, Flowers, Orange, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Ubacat

Oh that sounds so good! I’m just sad that sample isn’t in mine. This was the very first time for me too using an aroma cup. It made for an amazing tea experience. What was even better was I had to set aside time to take notes, sniff, sip. I really got into the full experience of the tea.

Lion

What samples did you get Ubacat? I can’t wait for their store to open so I can order some more of them.

mrmopar

Osmanthus done right is killer good.

TeaBrat

I have an Osmanthus white pearl tea from Red Blossom & it is to die for…

Ubacat

I’ve got Wenshan Baochong oolong, Jasmine oolong , & Alishan Jin Xuan Oolong. I’ll probably order more samples when the store opens too. They’re getting some great reviews.

Teaave

Hey Lion, we are so happy to see you enjoying our oolongs! It will be awesome if you can stop by our site sometimes and help us rate the teas you’ve tried!! Thank you :)

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90

I received this sample from Tea Ave prior to their grand opening. The leaves are gorgeous little twirls ranging from dark brown to fuzzy white. The scent is of autumn leaves and spices. I’m reminded of Bai Mudan.

After letting the dry leaves sit in a warm gaiwan for a moment, the scent that arises is of honey, lemons, and warm cream. I’m also getting subtle notes of cucumber and dry leaves (haha, sounds funny since they are dry leaves).

The aroma of the wet leaves is incredibly fragrant, with honey, warm grass, and so many wonderful tropical flower scents.

I’m enjoying this tea with an incredibly well-made and gorgeous Taiwanese aroma cup set that was sent to me by Tea Ave. They are white porcelain, hold a couple ounces of tea, and rest on a beautiful oak wood saucer. These cups are used by pouring the tea into the tall aroma cup, then pouring it from there into the wide, short drinking cup. The aroma is sniffed from the tall empty cup as a column of vapor exits it after pouring, then the tea is drank from the short cup.

The aroma from within the aroma cup is a very sweet one, reminding me of the scent of honey. Moving back to the drinking cup, the aroma is creamy with little drops of spice. On my first sip of the tea, it has a very smooth and mouth-coating texture, very clean. The color of the liquor is pale gold. The flavor is light and reminiscent of white tea. There is an intense hui-gan, or recurring cooling sweetness in the mouth, more so than I’ve experienced with any other tea, and in that regard it is very refreshing. The overall taste is not quite as sweet as the scent. There’s a mild dry praire grass and fallen leaves kind of characteristic to it, once again reminding me of a Bai Mudan or White Peony tea. The little notes of spice in the flavor are very reminiscent of chrysanthemum.

On the second infusion, the aroma cup starts with a strong smell of peat or bog. I had thought I detected this on the first cup, but it was much lighter. After just a few moments of gently rolling the cup between my hands the flavor evolves into a sweet honey scent once again, with bright floral notes. The brewed liquor in the drinking cup is now a deep golden yellow, nearing orange. The taste is again very clean and crisp, deeper and more earthy this time with more of the chrysanthemum notes coming through. If you let it sit in the back of your mouth and hold your breath, wonderful floral aromas rise up into your nose from inside. This may be one of the cleanest and lightest tasting oolong teas I’ve had. It is not at all lacking in flavor, but it registers in a subtle and gentle way on the palate.

Third infusion , the scent and flavor are even more complex. It is hard to describe. I will leave it at that. This is definitely a great tea and one I would recommend.

Many thanks to Tea Ave for the wonderful samples and cups!

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cucumber, Flowers, Grass, Honey, Spices

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Shae

An aroma cup sounds like such a neat idea!

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92
drank Jasmine Oolong by Tea Ave
189 tasting notes

I have never had jasmine scented oolong, only white and green tea, so this will be interesting!

With a base of Jin Xuan, this tea has a very creamy scent after the first infusion. The wet leaves smell of buttery cream and jasmine flowers! Using a taiwanese scent cup set, the aroma of the tea is really light and sweet jasmine with hints of cream. The liquor is a pale yellow green and after drinking some of the tea I’m impressed by just how clean the mouthfeel is. There’s a cooling sweet sensation that stays in the mouth. The tea is so light and delicate, a real plus for a jasmine tea, as they can easily be overly flavored and come out soapy tasting.

One thing I love about Jasmine is that if you get a delicate enough one, the flavor is somewhat reminiscent of pink bubble gum. This one definitely has that quality, but the added creaminess of the Jin Xuan cultivar is a real treat. This is a wonderful pairing. One of the problems I’ve had with many of the scented oolong teas I’ve had before is that the base oolong tea was not a very great quality one and had too much of a vegetal or bitter flavor that overpowered the floral tastes.

I’ve noticed in my experiences with tea over the years that you can usually tell a poor quality oolong by the fact that the leaves come unrolled rather quickly and it oversteeps easily. With quality oolong in a gongfu style, they aren’t fully opened until the 3rd-5th infusion, whereas with cheaper ones, they tend to open fully by the 2nd-3rd. That said, this tea does not overbrew easily and opens more gradually, giving you more variation in flavor from one infusion to the next. By the third infusion, the leaves are not yet fully open and the flavor is still creamy and floral, not too strong. Still tastes clean and not dry or bitter at all.

By the 4th infusion, the aroma cup is giving off hints of buttercream and french vanilla. The tea now tastes very buttery and sweet, and the jasmine has a little more of a kick to it, though not overpowering still. The leaves are just about fully opened now. I am going to end the review here as I anticipate the next infusions will not be distinct enough to describe too differently. Overall, the flavor becomes more buttery and rich as you infuse it further, more creamy. The pairing of Jin Xuan (Golden Daylilly or “Milk” Oolong) with Jasmine really works well. This tea may be well-suited to those who like Jasmine but can’t stand when it is heavy and in-your-face.

Another great tea from Tea Ave. I’m really looking forward to their grand opening. There are so many teas I want to try!

Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Jasmine, Milk, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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35
drank Ginseng Oolong by Simple Loose Leaf
189 tasting notes

The dry leaves in the warm gaiwan smell somewhat like golden raisins, and of course… ginseng. The wet leaves smell really sweet and fruity like berries, floral, and with a faint hint of pond and prairie grass aroma. The liquor smells creamy and somewhat like sunflowers and is pale yellow.

The taste of the first infusion is of sunflower seeds, a bit floral, and a touch bitter. The aftertaste is very sugary and lingers in my mouth for a long time.

The second infusion is quite a bit bitter and drying with a bit of tanginess and still with a lingering sweetness, though it is diminished this time by the lingering dryness as well.

Third infusion has a scent of osmanthus flowers, tastes a little bit like the first couple infusions, still a little sweet, but still a little bitter and drying too. I’m going to end here with this tea.

I’m under the impression that, generally speaking, many scented oolong teas are made from relatively low quality oolong. They usually open up much more quickly than high quality ones and put out a much stronger flavor, often to the point of being cloying, drying, or bitter. There wasn’t much to enjoy in this tea. Tasted low quality to me.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
TeaBrat

I am not a fan of ginseng oolongs in general. Have you had any you’ve liked?

Lion

There was one long ago from Berylleb King Tea that I received as a sample. I still have one left of it that I’ve been holding on to for when I’m in the mood because I actually liked that one. Other than that, I can’t recall any that I have liked.

TeaBrat

they all taste bitter to me…

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40
drank Li Shan Oolong Tea by Yezi Tea
189 tasting notes

The warm leaves in the gaiwan have a scent of orchids and mountain air, very sweet and fragrant. I’m really eager to try this tea.

After the first infusion, the wet leaves are giving me big whiffs of floral with hints of honey, wheat, and grapefruit. There’s also a vegetal scent. The flavor is light with mostly floral notes and a bit creamy, but there is a sourness to it that I’m surprised about. The finish isn’t as enjoyable as the onset.

(I made sure at this point that my kettle was producing clean tasting water and wasn’t in need of cleaning, and the water tasted normal. )

The next infusion has quite a sour taste to it as well. There’s a drying quality to the tea that is really difficult for me to tolerate. The flavor is floral and has a pungent kind of sourness like grapefruit.

By the third infusion, the flavor is more round, floral and vegetal, but it’s bordering on bitter or sour tasting. I am brewing this tea lighter yet than I typically brew these types of rolled high mountain oolong teas, so I’m pretty certain I’m not overbrewing it.

I am bummed that I’m not enjoying this tea. The scent is great, the kind of luscious floral you’d expect from high quality high mountain oolong, but the flavor is kind of harsh. It doesn’t have a clean mouthfeel. It is pungent and sour. I love Yezi teas and feel bad leaving a less than positive review for a company I enjoy so much, but I believe reviews should be honest and unbiased. Personally, this helps me to look back at what I’ve tried and know what things to purchase or try again in the future. I suppose it can also help vendors decide which of their teas are well-liked and which ones may be more of a risk to sell.

I gave this tea a second chance with what I had left of the sample, making a fresh batch, and I had the same experience, overall good flavor, but marred by pungent sour and bitterness that sneaks in in the finish.

My brewing times were 45s, 25s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 60s, with no initial rinse.

Flavors: Drying, Orchid, Sour

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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70
drank Qing Pin Black Tea by Yezi Tea
189 tasting notes

This tea is reminding me a lot of a classic Bailin Gongfu. The flavors are mellow, malty, bready, a little sweet.

This tea lasted far fewer infusions than I’m used to with a red tea. The flavor was enjoyable but not as complex as I’m used to from other high quality reds. I was really impressed by Yezi’s Jin Jun Mei a couple days ago and in comparison to that, this tea is missing the mark for me. There’s nothing wrong with it, but as far as red teas go, I also feel there’s nothing that particularly sets it apart from the crowd. The flavors hang on the woody, roasty, grainy, malty, side of things, and don’t dip down into the darker more fruity or chocolatey tones as much as some of my favorite reds, nor do they rise into the more bright honey sweet and floral tones. At least that is my experience with this sample.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Malt, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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90
drank Jin Jun Mei Black Tea by Yezi Tea
189 tasting notes

Oh goodness this is softer than I expected, really sweet and creamy. There’s a touch of a floral or evergreen kind of taste that I’m having trouble pinning down, but it’s really familiar to me. There’s a wonderfully smooth honey sweetness, just a touch of smokiness and a hint of lingering bitterness. Perhaps the most wonderful quality of this tea is just how smooth the mouthfeel is. It really coats your mouth with such a velvety thick texture. There is just the slightest hint of smokiness inside my nose causing a little tingling feeling there still several moments after I’ve drank a cup. I think I have become a lion dragon.

On the second infusion, sniffing the underside of the gaiwan lid I get notes of orchid and chocolate. The scent of the brewed liquor has notes of camphor and cinnamon as well as orchid and chocolate. The taste is more dark and caramely, but still smooth, a bit more floral now. There are fruity notes in the background and a lingering chocolate taste.

The third and fourth infusions bring a more dark, malty flavor, less sweet than the first two. The scent is just as sweet though and there is a subtle sweetness in the background of the flavor. By the fifth infusion, it’s backing off into the sweet honey flavors again. I’ll continue to infuse this many more times, but I’ll end my review here.

I really enjoyed this tea. The smoothness and richness of it in the early infusions were remarkable. The only downsides to me are the sort of smoky bitterness that lingers and sort of stings the inside of my nose a little. It’s a little strange and new to me, that sensation, and might take some getting used to!

I could see myself purchasing this tea. It has a really great complexity. I may just do so because I’m curious to see how my red tea seasoned Yixing pot would handle it. It really cuts the edge off of red teas and mellows them out. Could be incredible!

Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Honey, Orchid, Spices

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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83

I haven’t tried enough white teas. They are arguably my favorite type. Okay, I don’t really have a favorite type… but one of my two favorite teas (tied for the best I’ve had) is a white tea. I love the subtle nature of them. I can drink them often and not get tired of them or feel overwhelmed.

This silver needle by TeaVivre is just about what I’d expect from a Fujian silver needle. My entry point to white teas was through the award-winning white teas of Shang Tea, so I feel a little spoiled in that regard and tend to compare white teas to those ones.

In comparison to the silver needles I’ve had before, this one seems a bit more sugary sweet, but lacks the subtle peach notes I’m used to. The gentle color of the brewed liquor is like cream. The aroma has subtle hints of fallen autumn leaves. The downy buds have a nice coat of silvery white fur.

On the second infusion, my little white porcelain pinming cup looks like a yellow early evening moon is in it. There are subtle notes of spices in the aroma and the tea itself now has a bit of a cucumber taste. There’s more of that mouth-filling sugary flavor, and there’s a bit of a dusty taste in the background, subtle enough not to be unwelcome.

As with most silver needles I’ve tried, the flavor is rather consistent from one Gongfu infusion to the next. The flavor remains delicate and sweet.

This is certainly a good silver needle. It’s not the best one I’ve had, but it’s definitely good. It has a lot of sweetness. I’d say that’s the main distinguishing feature between this silver needle and others I’ve had like it.

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Cucumber, Dust, Sugarcane

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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95
drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
189 tasting notes

This is probably the only Shu Puer to really have earned my favor. I like Shu Puer in general, but aside from this one, none have ever really stood out to me as being unique or particularly enjoyable. Admittedly, I’ve probably had less than 10 different ones.

After a rinse this tea smells strongly of cacao and stone fruits. The brewed infusion tastes quite like unsweetened cacao, and in later infusions this is balanced by a dark fruit flavor something like dried fig or bing cherries. The aroma of the brewed liquor is like sugar cookies.

This one lasts plenty of infusions and delivers such a nice, rich flavor, with very little of the mustiness that most shu Puer have. I really like this. Best ripe Puer I’ve had so far!

Flavors: Cacao, Cherry, Cookie, Fig, Stonefruits

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Profile

Bio

I’m a dedicated practitioner of Gongfu Cha and you can usually find me brewing my tea in a gaiwan. I tend to stick to straight teas and scented teas most often, though I dabble in tisanes and flavored blends sometimes. I use a Tokoname-ware kyusu for Japanese green teas and a chawan for matcha. I also have a small unglazed kyusu that I use for roasty teas like houjicha and genmaicha. I have a yixing pot seasoned with Yunnan red tea.

My favorite teas are Kenyan Silver Needle, Gui Fei, Da Hong Pao, Shan Lin Xi, WYMM Tea’s Mangnuo “Cane Tea”, Obubu Tea’s Sencha of the Autumn Moon, and Shang Tea’s Special Reserve Green.

To me, tea offers a time of peace and reflection in solitude, or sharing and enjoyment with friends. It has become a huge part of my life lately. I hold monthly tea gatherings at my home and run a Facebook page about tea called Lion Style Gongfu Tea: http://tinyurl.com/teawithlion

Aside from tea, I’m a creative person. I love to cook, create music, write fiction, draw, decorate, and do just about anything creative I can get my paws on. I also enjoy creating food and drink recipes.

I am really interested in Asian cultures in all aspects. I really love Japanese animation and video games as well.

I’m a friend to animals of all kinds. I couldn’t live in a world without animals. Conserving and respecting them is very important to me. I’m a lion at heart. :3

But I am mostly here on Steepster to talk tea! Let’s enjoy the world of tea together!

My Tea Ratings:
0 = Terrible
25 = Unenjoyable or harsh
50 = Average, I’m indifferent
75 = Enjoyable
100 = Incredible

Location

Kansas City, USA

Website

http://tinyurl.com/teawithlion

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