212 Tasting Notes
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
I’m reviewing this one more time to try to pick up a few notes that stand out. This is the last I have of this tea and I’m really bummed. I have a yixing pot seasoned for it and need to find a worthy replacement, so I’m going to write some pointers here to help me when I’m sampling new teas in the future. I just don’t have enough to keep on hand to try side by side with others.
The leaves in the warm pot smell heavily of cocoa, a very mild hint of dill, and a bit of a light roast coffee scent, more of a Central or South American coffee, as coffee terroir goes. The first infusion is a bold, but sweet one. It tastes heavily of brown sugar and oats, a little malty. Reminds me of brown sugar oatmeal, but definitely a more ruch and robust flavor.
The second infusion has some rich dark fruit notes like fig. The wet leaves smell of cooked raisins. The third infusion tastes still somewhat sweet, but with some darker tones like molasses coming through. On the fourth and fifth infusions, a bit of light bitterness/sourness emerges and darker flavors come through, but there is still a good amount of sweetness as well. The brown sugar sweetness continues throughout further steepings, while it continues to be dark and bold in flavor as well, with notes of cocoa, molasses and dark fruits. It gets sweeter again with further infusions.
I really love this tea. I am going to stop my notes here, and hope I can find a similar tea to replace this one with for my yixing pot soon!
Thank you to Phillip at Taiwan Tea Crafts, for the sample!
This oolong is very smooth and creamy. It has a nice interplay of mountain forest and floral scents and flavors, and the taste is mildly creamy and sweet with just enough roast to give it a mild nutty quality, or a bit of flavor like flaky puff pastry dough.
I’m brewing this gongfu style in a small gongfu style teapot. The second infusion brings more of the flavors from the first, with a fuller body and more green forest notes. By the third infusion, I’m picking up a bit of a metallic taste in the finish and the other flavors have become a bit more muted (checked my water at this point to make sure the kettle wasn’t responsible for that flavor, and it wasn’t). After that, didn’t get a metallic taste again, just a nice, round lightly roasted oolong flavor. This is a pretty enjoyable and rather “standard” Taiwanese oolong of its type. Good stuff.
Flavors: Floral, Forest Floor, Green, Nutty, Pastries, Sweet
This tea is unlike any other tea I’ve had… and it surpasses most in quality and just the sheer depth of the experience one has in drinking this tea.
It is a very hard tea to describe. On appearance, it looks like a Chinese strip-style oolong, similar to Wuyi Yancha. The scent is incredibly fragrant, very fruity, floral, honeyed, sweet. This is the most robust and fragrant fruity-smelling tea I’ve had.
The flavor is quite complex and very sweet. The best I can describe it is that it taste like a really, really, really good Yunnan red tea with its lofty floral and fruit notes underscored by darker tones… mix that with a fruity/floral softly sweet wuyi oolong (with all its delicious roasted flavors) and a buttery high mountain oolong with its creamy, fruity, green and floral qualities. There’s a very sweet floral smell about this tea, and I believe orchids may be a flower that smell similar. Maybe something like magnolias even? I’m not a flower scent expert, but this is more sweet than perfumy as far as that goes.
I had the honor of enjoying this tea with a friend the other day, and I hear the process for creating it was quite an elaborate one. Sadly, Shang Tea does not produce this tea currently, but with this many high reviews, I wish they would consider re-creating it! I believe that a tea like this could be sold as a premium tea for much higher prices than Shang Tea had originally charged, to make up for the high cost of producing it.
I will skip brewing parameters, since I wasn’t the one brewing it, but it was brewed Gongfu Style in a gaiwan, basically quick infusions like a Wuyi oolong.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Fruity, Honey, Sweet
Brewing this in a gaiwan, 8 second infusion and slightly increasing each time.
This tea smells very fresh. The fragrance of the leaves after a rinse is very strong, but I’m not sure quite how to describe it. It’s pungent… and somewhere between maybe grapefruit and cooked brussel sprouts. I know those two scents aren’t all that similar, but what I’m getting from this is something that seems like it has fruit, floral, and vegetal qualities and is on the pungent side of things. I imagine there’s an exotic flower out there that smells just like this tea.
The flavor is also quite pungent and vegetal, quite buttery as well, and has a good deal of lingering bitterness. It also has some hints of orange blossom (reminding me in some ways of WYMM’s “Cane” puer) and there’s a very mouthwatering sour/tart finish.
After the first infusion, the scent of the leaves is definitely more floral, not the pungent vegetal from before. I’m also reminded of grapefruit again.
The second infusion is very buttery and green tasting like the first, and the bitterness is a bit less.This is a very clean-tasting and enjoyable Puer.
The third infusion is a little bit sweet, then becomes tangy, and has a mild bitternesss throughout. Same flavors reminding me of a chinese green tea. Grassy with notes of green beans and spring-like aroma.
The fourth infusion of this tea offers more of the same flavors. The floral note is coming through more. All-in-all this is a really enjoyable tea. I can see why the Puer farmers drink it every day. If I could do that, I probably would too. I’ll update this review if I notice any surprising changes in flavor from here on, but for now I’m off to enjoy the tea without analyzing and typing after each cup. ;3
Flavors: Floral, Grapefruit, Green Beans, Pleasantly Sour, Vegetal