212 Tasting Notes
I was told this tea was a nightmare of bitterness and the person who gave it to me said they wouldn’t feel right even giving it to an enemy. Haha. This was an invitation to adventure for me.
I brewed the kuding cha in my gaiwan for about 2 minutes at 185 degrees. I was surprsied that the tightly wound leaf didn’t really open up much in that amount of time. You could resteep this several times.
The brewed tea is a pretty pale green. The aroma after brewing reminds me of two things… freshly opened plastic hard-cases like you find electronics often packaged in… and the smell of old buildings. Neither are bad to me, I should mention, just uncommon for a tea. There is also a heavy aroma of wet hay and clay-rich mud.
Wowwwww, oh goodness wow. That is some bitter tea. What’s strange is that the bitterness isn’t just straight-up gag-reflex inducing bitterness. It’s the kind of bitterness I can see those who like bitterness enjoying. I am not a big fan of bitter flavors in general. I can’t even eat grapefruit, so this is definitely not a tea for me, but let me see if I can describe this taste a bit better. The taste starts out like the taste of paper and is even mildly sugary sweet. If you hold your breath while moving it around in your mouth, you can’t even taste the bitterness. It’s only after swallowing the tea and breathing that the bitterness really sneaks in. Or maybe the effect sort of diminishes after a sip or two.
On the second infusion the tea is a lot less bitter, or maybe I’ve gotten used to it!
I’ll be honest. It’s not nearly as terrible as what I expected. I think if you have a guilty pleasure for bitterness or “antique” aromas, or are just really into traditional Chinese medicine, this could be a good tea for you.
Flavors: Bitter, Paper, Sweet
Never had a silver oolong before. This tea from Nepal looks similar to a Taiwanese Bai Hao, an open-leaf style oolong with loosely curled strips and some fuzzy white buds in the mix, though this is more green. There’s a very distinct and familiar smell to this tea that I can’t quite figure out from smelling the dry leaves. It smells like old book pages and something else… I believe the aroma I am getting is pine wood, similar to a pinewood box (fuku masu) for drinking sake when it is wet and full of sake.
When I pulled the lid off my gaiwan after the first infusion, the first words to come out of my mouth were excited expletives, as I wasn’t expecting the intense aroma that drifted over to me. It’s hard to describe, but the scent smells like fruit flowers, maybe a little like orange blossoms, and is very vibrant and uplifting. It reminds me of the aroma of some of the best white teas I’ve had the pleasure to enjoy. There’s a good deal of the scent I’m familiar with in a good quality first flush Darjeeling as well, sort of perfumed, a bit earthy, and lightly fruity.
The brew is very sweet. The taste is very floral with hints of citrus and definite notes of pear.
On the second infusion the aroma is of flowers and fruit, maybe raspberries. The taste is a bit more perfume-like, reminding me once again of orange blossoms. The infusion is a pale creamy yellow. Oh, hey! Look at that. I just checked the website to read up on this tea a bit and they also describe it as having an orange blossom note.
This tea is really vibrant and enjoyable. The energy of this tea is more invigorating than calming.
The fourth infusion tastes more like orange blossoms and herbs. It’s really sweet and relaxing, very spring like.
This tea is incredibly aromatic and seems to be best when brewed somewhat lightly. If you go too heavy on the leaf, it becomes astringent.
Flavors: Fruit Tree Flowers, Orange Blossom, Pear, Pine
This is a very nutty and mellow tasting sencha. I had it stored with other tea samples and it seems to have taken on flavors from some of them, so I’m not going to do an in-depth review. I can say though that this one is mellow and a bit sweet, pretty good tasting. I’m getting hints of anise but I think that is from other tea scents that got into it.
Flavors: Nutty, Sweet
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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