68 Tasting Notes
Oh no, I’m the first to review it. Pressure!
Haha. Okay, so this 88th Night Shincha is kind of magical. It’s traditionally picked on the 88th night of spring , 88 nights after the Vernal Equinox (which puts it somewhere around June 17th most years if I counted right).
This shincha smells a lot like a high quality matcha to me. It is very rich. I’m getting lots of green leafy notes, some pistachio and a hint of green bean in the scent. In the taste it is vegetal and nutty like pistachio, mellow and has a nice sweetness to it, not a sugary sweetness mind you, more of a mild sweetness like you might describe some vegetables as having (carrots for example). There are delicate hints of mint. It’s lacking the mineral and ocean qualities I’ve tasted in other senchas, which is a nice parting from what I’m used to. The color is a beautiful green-yellow.
I’m gonna have to say this is the best sencha I have had yet. I have only had maybe 4 or 5 so my experience with them is not too broad, but this one is definitely the most enjoyable to me, for its mellow sweetness and hearty vegetal taste. Oh, and if anyone is curious, shincha is a first flush (first harvest) sencha, so that’s why I am comparing the two. :3
Edit: I served this tea at an event I held at my house where I served night-themed teas and it was a favorite among the guests. They said it tasted like a green smoothie. I can’t argue with that!
Flavors: Mint, Nuts, Sweet, Vegetal
This Fu Shou Shan has a very flowery presence, some light buttery vegetal notes and is rather creamy. There’s also a good deal of foresty, pine like notes.
All around a pretty solid Taiwanese oolong. Nothing surprising, but pretty good.
Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Pine, Vegetal
The scent notes on this one are quite unexpected: rose, perfume, amber, green bean. It reminds me of some shampoos and lotions.
The taste is like… paper, with a hint of hay and malt. Very slight hint of ocean and on later steepings it actually tasted like the smell of amber. Strange.
It’s not bad tasting, but it is kind of bland to me. I feel rather unaffected by it. The perfumey notes are a bit much for me.
Flavors: Hay, Malt, Ocean Air, Paper
Myahaaa! CRAZY CAT ALERT!
Okay, so there are times in my tea journey when I encounter a tea that is… for lack of a better term… catnip… to me. In fact, I am surprised this is happening now, because there is only one tea that does that to me up to this point! To elaborate… I am just so intoxicated and shocked by the flavor… it’s like I’m discovering flavors I never knew existed. I can hardly begin to describe the incredible freshness and enjoyability of this tea… and due to not knowing exactly what to think except “WHOA!” I get this giddy cat-on-nip reaction that makes me make vocal noises of pleasure after each of the first few sips. The next several sips all I do is wildly brag to my guests or friends about just how wonderful it is. I preach and yet I feel rather like just flailing around and doing donuts on the carpet. This is only the fourth tea I’ve tried out of hundreds I’ve tried now that I’ve given a perfect 100 score in my review here on Steepster.
Okay, so, where to begin with this? I’ll start with Stacy’s tasting notes from the website because they are spot-on. Fresh cream, churned butter, roasted cashew, grilled corn, banana, and green bean… it’s all there, though if I were to order them by predominance with the most obvious first it’d go like this… Fresh cream, grilled corn, banana, churned butter, green bean, roasted cashew. I will be honest. I ate some roasted cashews about half an hour before I drank this tea… though I had a few palate cleansing foods and drinks in between, so I don’t think that it masked the cashew flavor in this tea necessarily. Rather, having that close of a comparison… I’d say it may be the one tasting note I’m not really getting much of from Stacy’s observations. I wouldn’t describe it as cashew. I will add one though.
Sugar cookie. Oh yes. I wasn’t expecting anything like this. When I poured the first infusion from my gaiwan to the fair cup, nowhere near me, I was met with a whiff of tea steam that made me do a double take. It smelled INCREDIBLE.
I’d say I have a decently sensitive palate. Really light white teas and even some oolong and green can on occasion taste like hot water with a bit of salt or honey or sugar added and not much complexity. I understand that feeling, but I have found that when this occurs I can usually brew the tea a different way and many more flavors emerge (more or less leaf, different time or temp). Also, I can’t stress enough that for brewing very light teas like whites, you really should be using very neutral tasting water. I used spring water for the longest time until I realized a certain evil monolothic chain grocer here in the US has filtration stations in all their stores that use sediment filters, carbon filters, reverse osmosis filters, and uv filters (all 4 together) to give you some very clean tasting and slick feeling local water for substantially cheaper than spring water. Even with home filtration systems, I often taste a lot of mineral and chemical and that can easily overpower light teas. I even did a blind taste test against the spring water I liked with my favorite teas, and the filtered water from the store won out.
Off my pulpit about water quality, just a tip for those who say they are tasting “hot water”, this tea was very full of flavor and is a totally different creature from any of the Chinese Silver Needles I’ve had before. Those tend to have notes of fruits like peach or melon, sweet honey and nectar notes as well. This tea is creamy, light and yet rich… like a chantilly cake. The ending notes of a sip carry the light vegetal quality, which is a bit like a sweet green bean or snap pea. I can see where others say this is like a mellowed down Chinese green tea.
I used 2 grams of needles per 100ml of water (that’s about a heaping tablespoon per 3 oz). Brewed it gongfu style for 1 minute, adding 15 seconds each time at 185F. There was never any dryness at all on any infusion.
Now I need to see how long I can prevent myself from ordering insane quantities of this tea.
Flavors: banana, Butter, Cookie, Corn Husk, Cream, Green Beans
I’ve begun to feel guilty when I leave poor reviews for a tea. I think because the tea world can be a bit tightly knit and many of our tea vendors are private businesses run by very nice people the relations often feel personal to an extent and I feel like such a bad customer leaving a negative review of a tea. On the other hand, I think the feedback might help vendors decide which teas to continue investing in and which to discontinue, if sales numbers don’t speak for themselves, so I try to just be as straightforward as I can. It’s hard though not to feel a little bad for it sometimes.
As for Golden Stars, there is another review here that mentions the tea having a bit of a “plastic” smell. I am totally getting that. It reminds me of a painted yixing style pot I got recently that was not actual yixing clay, but painted to look more attractive. The paint has a faint plastic aroma to it and when brewing in that vessel you can smell and taste it in the tea. My Golden Stars were brewed in a glazed gaiwan that contributes no aroma or flavor to teas brewed in it and unfortunately they have a similar smell and taste that is sort of… “plastic”.
As best as I can, I will say the notes on this tea are butter, salt and green bean. The buttery flavor comes through most, with the other two backing it.
Rather than dropping a numerical rating bomb on this tea, I’ll just say I would not recommend it. It doesn’t taste clean the way high quality artisan teas should. I have no idea if it’s a part of the processing to due to the materials or process of sewing the leaves into little stars, or improper storage of tea by the manufacturer, or just a flavor present in the tea, but it is unappealing and the other flavors are so subtle they are masked by it. The tea tastes faintly like a salty broth/brine.
Flavors: Butter, Green Beans, Salt
Ooh! This roasted Dong Ding starts out with this wonderful mild roasted nutty flavor like a Houjicha, but then it opens up to the dried fruit and honey like qualities of Dong Ding, with so much lingering sweetness. For a roasted tea, this one tastes very clean and leaves a nice clean feeling in the mouth and a tingly minty kind of freshness.
On the second steeping the roasted flavor has died off quite a bit revealing more of the sweet, nectar-like qualities of the tea. The more steepings in you go, the more creamy and mellow it gets, and the more it gives way to subtle floral, fruit and honey notes. This is a wonderful oolong for enjoying gongfu style to see how the many infusions change.
Flavors: Dried Fruit, Floral, Honey, Nutty, Raisins, Roasted
The aroma has elements of cedar, peat, and dry grass. The taste is very slightly of honey and flowers, somewhat like chamomile but is mostly masked by the signature aged taste of puer, woody, a bit peppery and smokey, there’s a slight aftertaste of five spice. and lingering peppery quality. There’s also a bit of green bean in there somewhere. It’s slightly astringent. I’d call it more of an intense puer than a mellow one.
Flavors: Flowers, Green Beans, Honey, Peat, Pepper, Spices, Wood
Now this is a unique white tea. Similar to a White Peony, this wild tea has big broad green-brown leaves that look like little dragon wings.
The flavor of this white tea is somewhat difficult to describe in terms of other things it smells or tastes like. The brewed leaves smell of honey, floral and musk. The taste of tea has a honeyed sweetness and a rich umami, like mushroom or zucchini, yet it remains just as light and smooth as any other high quality white tea I’ve had. The finish is smooth, no astringency and there’s a lingering umami on the tongue. There are tiny hints of clove, cinnamon, and rolled oats in the finish.
This white tea has a generous rich mouthfeel and reminds me of a leggy white wine in that regard. The thing that really sets this wild white tea apart from other white teas of its type is in how rich and umami it is. I am used to more grassy, floral, and even citrus notes in white teas, but this one is really savory. Let it become almost tepid for a really interesting change in flavor. It brings out both the sweetness and the spicy end notes.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cloves, Honey, Mushrooms, Oats
The look of these buds is like no other tea I’ve seen. They’re a potpourri looking mix of deep reddish-purple, gold and greenish buds. There was little scent until I got them into a warm gaiwan. The buds smell very heavily of green bean and pea, lots of wood notes as well. The flavor is like a smoked wood, more woody than smokey, with some subtle notes of green bean. There’s a “dirtiness” to the taste that is a lot like a ripe Shu Puerh. It has some of those leathery, peat-like qualities.
This tea seems like a cousin of Ya Bao. It has similar woody qualities, just a lot more woody and beany and not having the fruity sweetness of Ya Bao. About four steepings in, I’m getting really similar flavors and coming to the conclusion that there isn’t particularly anything popping out that I am going to enjoy in this tea.
My interest in this tea came primarily from the fact that I just learned about purple teas and wanted to try some. I requested this as a sample with an order of Purple Sunset Oolong, which is made from the Kenyan purple cultivar. This Puerh is from Yunnan.
Please take other reviews into account when considering my rating. This is based on personal tastes and not on the quality of the tea.
Flavors: Green Beans, Leather, Peas, Smoked, Wood
It’s about time I got around to reviewing more Shang Teas, as they are an incredible company, based locally for me, and my main source of tea since my fascination with Gongfu Cha and high quality loose teas began.
Let me start by saying this, I have never tasted a better White Peony tea than this one. This tea truly stands above the rest. It may be a little hard for me to be objective, as the current year I have from them is 2008 and that year is sentimentally-speaking the greatest of my life so far. Knowing this tea was harvested that year, I feel I transcend time when I drink it and the nostalgia of my memories of a half-year stay in South Africa flood back in.
This tea is incredibly smooth. On the first infusion of this pale-yellow green brew I am tasting very evident notes of cucumber, subtle notes of walnut and wild grass. This white tea is smooth, very smooth, almost creamy even. There’s a delicate lingering sweetness and a velvety feeling on the tongue for a while after a drink. There is no astringency or dryness whatsoever. This tea is as clean-tasting as it gets. The brewed leaves smell of parsley
Second steeping, the flavor is even more round, and be assured this tea is very round, we’re talking 360 degrees round. It doesn’t have the brighter “green” qualities of some younger white teas but showcases a maturity that is smooth and full. In terms of flavor, the second infusion offers a more nutty quality than the first. The light cucumber notes have backed away. There’s a slightly herbaceous taste. The lingering mild sweetness reminds me of the lingering flavor of a fresh baked pastry or donut, albeit much, much subtler.
With repeated infusions, the flavor is consistently light and delicately sweet. This tea is pleasant and easily approachable all-around. The dewy cucumber notes came back around a few steepings in. How lovely.
I’ve noticed other users here have given this tea a perfect 100 score, and it is definitely deserving. This is one of the finest white teas in the world. My only reason for the 99 rating is that I reserve the perfect score for my holiest most absolute personal favorites. As my palate for delicate white teas is still learning and developing (those subtle nuances can be really hard to detect for an American whose palate is used to strong-flavored food and drink), I haven’t quite been wowed to the point of absolute dedication to a particular white tea yet.
Flavors: Cucumber, Herbaceous, Pastries, Sweet, warm grass, Walnut