68 Tasting Notes

72

This oolong has a light floral scent and the flavor is green, vegetal, slightly salty/tangy and floral.

I feel some difficulty in picking out specific notes, but the overall taste is rich while still remaining light. It’s a got a nice buttery green feel to it with just a hint of floral. Relaxing without being too heady. It has a Tie Guanyin feel to it but a little less green and more floral and light.

Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Grass

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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94

Let’s be honest, I LOVE oolong, and oolong like this Li Li Xiang is exactly why.

The initial aroma of the dry leaves is sweet and peachy with hints of vanilla and floral. The wet leaves smell of dessert with just such aromas. I used this funky little travel gaiwan I recently got on a whim. The appeal of this piece is that it requires no additional equipment and not really a gongfu table or mat either. It has a little dam built over the inner lip on one side with holes poked into it to hold the leaves back while the water pours through them and off the spout on the other side. The lid of the gaiwan is the cup you drink from and holds all the tea at once so you don’t have to worry about oversteeping. You do, however have to start pouring about 10-15 seconds before your infusion is over or you might oversteep. It takes a bit of time to strain the water through the leaves.

This is my first time really using this gaiwan, but it worked wonderfully for this tea. The first infusion smells floral and fruity and the taste is of vanilla, floral and peach or apricot. Lots and lots of hui gan (recurring cooling sensation).

Steeping number two has a more heady floral flavor with a bit of tanginess and undertones of apricot or peach and seriously, that hui gan is immense! It really lingers in your mouth.

The flavor profile or this oolong is really reminding me of the Shan Lin Xi that came out in an earlier month this year in Steepster Select, though where they differ is that this one seems a bit more fruity where the Shan Lin Xi is more foresty and floral. They both offer a surprisingly bright and light bouquet that is very spring-like. The fruity and creamy tones make me recall a Jin Xuan that I have that’s grown on Mt. Dong Ding.

Really this is a wonderful tea that seems to cover a middle ground between some of my favorite oolong. I really recommend it!

Flavors: Apricot, Cream, Flowers, Peach, Vanilla

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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94

The pearls are elegant and have notes of caramel lingering in them from the start. There is a sweet and slightly floral grassy aroma and a hint of fruit and nectar.

My first steeping was only for 45 seconds in a gaiwan. I always enjoy doing a brief first infusion for white teas and seeing the almost colorless, slightly golden liquid that comes out into the cha hai. It almost looks like regular water but with a mysterious golden glow, and yields a full but delicate flavor. This is where you’ll catch most white teas’ sugary and honey notes without them being overshadowed by the earthier, grassier qualities. This infusion is smooth and subtle, a bit of sweet grass and floral notes. I’m reminded a bit of Ya Bao.

The second infusion was a beautiful pale gold. The leaves have opened up a lot more and offer heady tropical fruit and flower aromas. The liquor smells of cream. The taste is buttery and creamy, lightly floral, ending in cut wood notes.

The third brew is very buttery, the scent and flavor both have notes of caramel and cream. The woodiness and grassiness from before are mostly gone. The leaves have fully opened up now and the brew is a medium gold.

Whoa!!! By the fourth steeping this tea has become very salty and buttery but still sweet. Reminds me of kettle corn! I wasn’t expecting that salty quality to come out of these leaves so late in the process! This is really great! There’s a slight dryness at the end with just a hint of tannin, nothing too serious, also a very light floral lingering note.

On the fifth steeping the overall impression is lightly floral and sweet, but the flavor seems to be waning quite a bit, so I’ll stop here.

Overall, this tea brings a lot of changes from one steeping to the next for a white tea. Perhaps because the leaves are rolled this allows different aspects of the flavor to emerge as the leaves slowly unfurl from one steeping to the next. I really enjoyed this white tea and would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes a lightly sweet, yet grassy and woody tea with just a hint of floral. Overall the flavor is quite smooth and creamy, gloriously buttery, and easy on the palate. Give it a try!

Flavors: Caramel, Flowers, Fruit Tree Flowers, Grass, Wood

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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85

This is my first experience with the famous Bi Luo Chun, and this particular one from Teasenz really presents a quality I would expect from one of China’s 10 Famous Teas.

The delicate little buds are fragile and most brewing methods would have you dropping them onto water in a full tall glass. I brewed them lid-off in a gaiwan using a technique to fill the water where you pour it slowly along the outer rim in a circular motion so that it takes about 10 seconds to fill the gaiwan fully. The water hardly agitates the leaves and they mostly sit still as it slowly fills. This keeps from damaging these delicate leaves.

The scent is nutty and vegetal. The flavor is significantly rich, hearty, savory, nutty, vegetal, brothy, buttery… I could go on! It is quite complex and is difficult to describe. There are notes of asparagus, spinach, grass, and wood. I’m reminded of the scent of a forest on a hot day after rain. Scents of earth, growth and slight decay rise up from the forest floor under the heat of the sun. The cup emanates these same qualities.

The second steep brings about more richness and depth while featuring the same flavors. It continues to be very buttery and nutty with green vegetal flavors. This time I’m reminded of zucchini. The brew has also a nice sweetness to it if you let it cool before drinking.

The third steeping was so good I couldn’t drink it slowly enough to detect any flavors. Hah! Okay, I might have inhaled a tasting cup of it, but I had some more to try. The flavor is more sweet and mellow, but still with a hearty vegetal green taste. There is almost no astringency but a slight lingering feeling on the tongue that is a little bit dry and there is also a definite hui gan, a recurring cooling sensation accompanying the sweetness.

There’s a scent and flavor to this tea overall that I couldn’t describe properly for the longest time, I had to come back and edit this review. I’ve now come to realize it’s something of a green bean kind of taste/aroma. It’s definitely quite dominant in the later steepings.

By the fourth steeping the flavor is still quite full. There’s a subtle lingering floral taste, along with the other flavors that have already been present. The fifth steeping finally started to lose some flavor so I stopped there. That’s quite a bit of steepings for a green tea!

Here’s a bit of trivia for you, according to Wikipedia:
Its original name is Xia Sha Ren Xiang (simplified Chinese: 吓煞人香; traditional Chinese: 嚇煞人香; pinyin: xiàshàrénxiāng; “scary fragrance”). Legend tells of its discovery by a tea picker who ran out of space in her basket and put the tea between her breasts instead. The tea, warmed by her body heat, emitted a strong aroma that surprised the girl. Scary fragrance! Haha!

According to the Qing Dynasty chronicle Ye Shi Da Guan, the Kangxi Emperor visited Lake Tai in the 38th year of his rule. At that time, because of its rich aroma, local people called it “Scary Fragrance”. The Kangxi Emperor decided to give it a more elegant name – “Green Snail Spring”.

I have read that Bi Luo Chun is renowned for fruity and floral aromas, but I’m not really getting either of those from this tea.

Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Grass, Green Beans, Wood

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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65

China Clouds and Mist from Allegro offers a unique taste that I wasn’t really expecting when I steeped it. The scent is very vegetal like bitter herbs and spring greens, while the flavor is very dominantly minty like spearmint with sweet undertones. There’s even a slight cooling sensation like mint. After a second steeping, I’m getting some smoke and asparagus notes underneath the mint. The third steeping was similar, but more mellow. Each repeated steeping finished with a drier mouth-feel than the last, which wasn’t desirable, but wasn’t overpowering either. This green tea certainly has a unique flavor that struck me as very interesting at first, but wore on me just a bit. I do not like spearmint, so that may be why.

Flavors: Asparagus, Bok Choy

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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100

Well, here it is, the second tea to wow me for a perfect 100 score!

This Moonlight White is listed by Bana as a raw pu-erh, but if you were to just walk up to this sitting on a counter unlabeled, you might easily mistake it for a white tea. Some further research has led me to find that this tea is classified by some as a white tea and others as pu-erh. I’m intrigued. Bana’s steeping suggestions are to brew it like a pu-erh rather than a white tea, so that is what I did.

I filled my gaiwan half full with the leaf, which took about 3.5 g per 100 ml of water. After an initial quick rinse (I tasted the rinse just to be sure I wasn’t missing anything, and I wasn’t) the first steep was for 5 seconds. I’m brewing at 203F with the gaiwan lid off. This yielded a very light almost clear brew that smelled like cinnamon, tasted creamy and buttery as hell and if I had to compare it to another drink I’d say it was like drinking horchata. Wild!

Increasing 5 more seconds each time, a couple more steeps in the cinnamon sugar scent is still there, the creamy, buttery flavors are still there and there are subtle notes of fruit, perhaps honeydew or nectarine. The tea has a cooling feeling on my tongue and leaves it coated with a very silky mouthfeel that lingers long after I’ve finished a sip. As the steeps get later, I begin to increase by 30 seconds. The liquor becomes more yellow and with every new cup the light flavor of this tea greets me again offering generously buttery flavor with a hint of spice. The aroma of fruit and spice is intoxicating. The silky mouthfeel becomes a bit more of a dry mouthfeel after more steepings, but it doesn’t feel unpleasant.

By the 5th infusion the fruity aroma is much more prominent and I’m tasting it more too. It’s definitely more on the side of honeydew than it was before. There’s a faint maltiness that is so gentle and the cream and butter are still churning out generously. What reminded me of cinnamon and spice is gone now. The flavor seems to reached somewhat of a plateau by the 6th steeping and onward, as I add a minute to each steep to ensure I am milking the leaves enough for a full brew, but it never comes off as weak, lacking, or anything but rich and full (yet impossibly light for such a full taste).

By steeping 8, I’m surprised again! The brew is darker and the aroma and flavor are very obviously of amaretto! “What in the world!?” I’m thinking. It’s still buttery, too!

Steeping 9 and on seem to be getting more astringent and not quite as drinkable, so I think I’m done with this tea here, but what a great journey that was!

This tea’s flavor is delicate, yet full-bodied. It’s got a nice consistent creamy quality to it, for the most part, so you’ve got to listen hard if you want to note the changes from one steep to the next. For the most part, the changes are not as obvious as with an oolong or some other pu-ehrs, but if you give this tea the quiet space it deserves (perhaps enjoy it under moonlight), the spirit it shows you is just sublime.

Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Melon, Nuts

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

Well, looks like I will be adding this to the endless shopping list :)

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78

The scent of this Shou Pu-erh is very sweet and reminds me of sweet dried summer grasses and other dried botanicals.

The liquor is very dark, deep brown. The brewed flavor is very mellow and sweet with date and hazelnut notes. There is much more mellow sweetness to this tea at first than earthiness, so it brews very mild and enjoyable. The second steep was a little more dark and earthy with cocoa notes and a lingering sweetness toward the end, less sweet up front. In later steepings there are tobacco and molasses flavors and the sweetness becomes more evident again throughout the cup.

Overall this is a very nice tea. I have been slowly encountering more Rishi teas since I work at a store that sells them and while I haven’t exactly been wowed yet, I am usually pleasantly surprised by the quality.

Flavors: Dates, Molasses, Nuts, Tobacco

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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35

This tea is so beautifully green! The aroma is peppery and mostly exhibits roasted nutty tones above all.

The dominant flavors are of algae and seaweed, with obvious toasty notes from the toasted rice. At first this tea tastes very briney, oceany, even fishy almost, but as I drink more of it and become more familiar with the taste, this effect diminishes and it is mostly just vegetal. The aftertaste is a little astringent, but not very noticeable.

This tea is a little on the uninteresting side for me. I brewed it in a 10 oz porcelain mug with a built-in porcelain infuser basket. I almost always brew gongfu method with a gaiwan but thought this would be more appropriate for this tea because of the matcha and because the packet just recommends to use 10 oz of water.

All that considered, I feel the taste is rather forward and not very deep or complex. I feel sort of unmoved.

Flavors: Fish Broth, Grass, Ocean Breeze, Seaweed

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML
Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

I wonder if I would like it since I love seaweed heavy teas, but usually I like my genmai-matcha on the sweeter side. Who knows?

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74

This is my first Lapsang Souchang! Yay Steepster Select always introducing me to new things!

I went on the light side for brewing this because I was a bit scared of overwhelming myself. I don’t consider myself much of a dark tea person (though they are growing on me). The scent of the dry leaves immediately reminds me of a campfire. The aroma of pine and smoke is very dominant, and the tea leaves themselves smell very similar to the type of black tea used in Thai tea. The taste is of pinewood and smoke, and yet again the taste of the black tea is very similar to the type of tea used in Thai Tea. There’s a peppery, spicy quality at the end of a sip. I’m guessing the similarities are there because both teas use “lower quality” leaves (4th and 5th leaf) to make the tea, then blend it with flavors to make it more palatable. Chai can be in the same boat.

I can’t say this is a favorite for me. It doesn’t really gain complexity with repeated steepings like higher leaf teas do, but it induces a nice warm nostalgic feeling that reminds me of a campfire glow and all the memories of nature and the outdoors associated with it.

So you have to kind of take it for what it is. The best premium tea out there? Not really. Still good in its own right? Definitely. I think it earned a few extra points just for nostalgia factor though.

Flavors: Pine

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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The look of this mini toucha is adorable. After an initial rinse, I steeped for 10 seconds and got a very bitter brew. I think this may be because in the course of trying to hold the gaiwan lid tight so that the tiny pieces wouldn’t come through, it took about 20 seconds total to pour. I softened it with some extra water. The leaves smell very oceany and vegetal, while the liquor smells smoky, slightly floral. In the liquor scent, I’m reminded of my aunt’s house growing up… dogs, cigarettes, and leather… they were farmers. Might sound odd, but it’s all coming back to me now. (duh-duh-duh dun dun duuun)

The tea tastes mineral, green, vegetal. By the second steep I’m getting more sweetness, but still rather bitter in the finish. Third steep is pretty mineral and oceany, still somewhat bitter, a little less sweet, kind of tart with a subtle pear-like note. Fourth steeping, still very mineral, green, oceany. That bitterness is killing me though. I’m beginning to think this tea needs special parameters outside my normal Puerh steeping guidelines. By the fifth steeping I’m kind off worn out on it. Mostly just tasting mineral and bitter.

Anyone feel free to reply to my review with brewing tips if you think I screwed up. I brewed this tea 10 seconds, 20, 30, etc. I’m going to not rate this tea because my rating would be very low and I don’t particularly want to taint the results not knowing if I just brewed it wrong myself.

Flavors: Metallic, Mineral, Ocean Breeze, Seaweed

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Bio

I’m a dedicated student and practitioner of Gongfu Cha and you can almost always find me brewing my tea in a gaiwan. I tend to stick to straight teas and scented teas rather than flavored tea blends with lots of non-tea ingredients. I dabble in tisanes and blends from time to time though.

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.

Aside from tea, I’m a novelist and creator of all types. I love to cook, create music, write, draw, decorate, and do just about anything creative I can get my paws on. I’m a sandwich and sushi chef and an aspiring beverage artist.

I am really interested in Asian cultures and have a much deeper interest than my shameless love for anime and Japanese video games.

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.

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

Location

Kansas City, USA

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