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57 Tasting Notes

90

I’ll be quick, since I’m writing this note from a sample (which I usually don’t do) but it’s been a while since a tea literally blew my mind (and taste buds).

I brewed this using the tea bowl style, I usually never do but this one was calling for it. Unique candy sweet taste, with a thick and full texture that fills your mouth and a long lingering sugary sweet aftertaste. I am honestly in awe of how good this tea is. It subtle yet intensely flavorful at the same time. First three infusions were definitely the best (I just refilled the bowl with more water after running out of tea).

This is perhaps the only time I’ll get to taste this since $60 for 2 oz is just way over my budget in tea, but i’ll remember this one for a long time.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C
TeaBrat

They are sooo pricey!

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84

I tasted this today at the LA International Tea Festival while visiting the Bana Tea booth. Aside from a very lovely experience of getting to meet the owner of Bana(at least I think she was), I tasted several tea’s and this one in particular stood out as a nice alternative for a good everyday pu-erh.

Now, drinking it at home, this tea tastes even better. Light the first infusions with a super smooth and slightly creamy texture, with a very light hint of earthiness. Feels almost like comfort food… if that even makes sense.

I’m overall glad I purchased this, tasted even better than expected. A more detailed note coming soon.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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78

Ahh summer is slowly coming to an end, as the climate slowly cools, I crave more and more tea per day. I’ve tried several Tai Ping Houkui’s before but never thought much of them (as a matter of fact I just noticed a previous note for Harney & Son’s version was not uploaded… oh well I’ll repost it later). I splurged on this one just because of one thing and one thing only, the photos of the dry leaf. The pictures Redblossom put up are just so beautiful. Considering I have not (yet) been dissapointed with their quality, I figured, “huh, maybe this is the real deal, how a good tai ping is supposed to be,” so I went ahead with the impulse buy and got some.

>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
Beautiful. DEEP vibrant green leaves, super long and unbroken, with a very fresh green grassy smell. The best looking Tai Ping I’ve personally encountered.

>Brewing Method
Following Redblossom’s suggested brew guidelines; 4 grams of leaf, 180F water, 1 min 30 sec steep time.

>Liquid Appearance
Clear yellow green.

>Taste/Aroma
The first cup gives off a very vegetal smelling cup, with some grassy notes.
The first cup overall was also the most flavorful, being light and smooth, subtly sweet, hints of grass, ending with a clean mouth feel. No bitterness at all and very resilient to several infusions. Each subsequent infusion lost some flavor little by little but remained very similar to the first. I was able to re-steep this guy about 7 times, it just kept giving and giving!

>Wet Leaf Appearance
The leaves slowly unfold to show their “true” leafy shape, but not all of them do. From a vibrant green the become a dull yellow green after several infusions.

>Overall
Of the several Tai Ping Houkui’s I’ve had, I can safely say this one was the tastiest one. But my main gripe with this kind of tea, is that I feel it tastes just too plain, I’ve never understood why (in some places/lists) this is considered a famous tea. There is nothing special to it that makes crave it like crazy like some other teas do. I figured Redblossom’s version would provide an epiphany similar to my experience with Dragonwell, but it was not meant to be.

Again, I’ve found this the best one I’ve tried, but Tai Ping Houkui just does not intrigue me as much as other greens. Still, a very tasty and good tea.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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95

This is my second “high quality” dragonwell I’ve tasted (first one being Panan from Redblossom) and my first ever Shifeng. As soon as this was announced I immediately preordered 1 ounce just to see what all the fuzz was about.

>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
The leaf is somewhat coarse, with a pale golden green color and a very faint grassy, nutty, hay-like aroma. Leaves are mostly medium sized, with several broken pieces and leaf bits.

>Brewing Method
I’ve experimented with this tea with Verdant’s gong-fu style and Redblossom’s recommended shifeng brewing guidelines. Both yielded somewhat different results. Gongfu was done following Verdant’s guidelines of 175F water, 4 grams of leaf, with 3 second steep times. Redblossom’s I used 180F water, 2 grams of leaf, with 1 min steep time.

>Liquid Appearance
Clear pale yellow-green.

>Taste/Aroma
Following Verdant’s gongfu style, this tea was very light, slightly creamy, grassy, and with a very noticeable cashew-nutty taste. I was able to brew the tea several times in a row with similar results, with it slowly losing its flavor.

Following the more “default” way to brew green tea, using Redblossom’s guidelines, I was able to get a super thick and creamy first cup with crisp grassy notes, but surprisingly lacking the clear cashew hint. Subsequent re-infusions were noticeably weaker in taste and texture (losing its thick creaminess at the second infusion).

>Wet Leaf Appearance
After several infusions, the coarse leaves become very tender and reveal their beautiful shape of three young top leaves.

>Overall
I really liked this tea. It’s also very interesting to see the differences between good dragonwells. I still prefer the panan version, but this one, with its clear cashew nut taste and thick creamy texture makes it a delicious green tea. I also found verdant’s gonfu way to be my preferred method to brew this tea, Redblossom’s way gave me a very one dimensional tea compared to the gongfu style, but maybe this method will work better with their version of shifeng? we’ll have to find out once I try that one in the future.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec
Spoonvonstup

Have you gotten a chance to try this one “Dragonwell Style”? I believe that’s what David has up in the “How to Brew” for Mrs. Li’s Shi Feng. If you haven’t yet, I recommend it, if only as another comparative brewing method. It’s almost a combination of the gong-fu and Red Blossom methods.. leaves floating in a glass (longer steeping), yet you sip on it continuously (getting snapshots as it goes like gongfu).

Mike G

I have not… It was in my plans to eventually try it, but it seems it has gotten discontinued. Too much green tea in my cupboard for many months kept me from trying this :(

Spoonvonstup

Ah yes- it has definitely sold out. In any event, it’s still an interesting method to try on your other dragonwell’s when you get the chance.

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86
drank Hashiri Shincha by Den's Tea
57 tasting notes

Sip-down on this great shincha!

I never got to write a good detailed note on this one due to a long busy (and extremely hot) summer. I’m drinking my last cup, trying to clear it out of my cupboard to make room for a new asamushi sencha I’m eyeing.

Anyways, this was very light and subtly sweet with fresh grassy notes. No astringency or any bitterness when brewed correctly, just a light, sweet, and fresh green cup. I remember when I first opened the bag the smell of was very fresh and sweet.

Good Shincha, I ended up enjoying more the other shincha I got aside from this one, but this was still pretty good.

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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79

It’s been a brutal summer for my tea drinking habits. I simply don’t drink as much when it’s 95-100+ degrees out here, so I have to wait till night when there’s a slight chilly breeze going on to actually enjoy tea the way I like it. Anyways, when this tea was announced I immediately placed on order (me being a huge fan of TGY) and waited eagerly for my order. I did not try it until tonight simply because of the previous stated reasons. So here it is.

>Dry Leaf Apperance/Aroma
Small tightly curled deep jade green leaves with a very nice gentle aroma. not as aromatic as others.

>Brewing Method
Gong-fu style closely following verdant’s instructions, using a yixing pot dedicated to TGY.

>Liquid Appearance
Bright golden green.

>Taste/Aroma
My first cup had a somewhat muted floral aroma, with a unique fresh “sparkling” mouth feel and a slight gentle sweetness. Not as floral in taste as other TGY’s, but grassier/greener in a good way. The second cup became slightly more aromatic, taste remained mostly the same but crisper. The 3rd and 4th were also very similar. Texture became thicker and smoother with very defined crisp sweetness and clean mouth feel. My favorite steeps were the 5th and 6th, where the tea became thick, velvety smooth, and slightly juicy. The 7th and final steep I made was light in flavor, this TGY was all about mouth feel anyways, with texture remaining mostly the same.

Throughout my session, I never really felt a strong after taste, more of a lingering note. Verdant describes this similar to almond, but to me, that small note left me with an almost mineral sensation, similar to that of a wuyi. Very light and mostly noticeable in late steepings, but still there.

>Wet Leaf Appearance
Mix of broken and unbroken leaves, some stems, varying sizes of leaves.

>Overall
While not as good as its spring/autumn counterparts, this tea was quite interesting. What amazes me the most is how each picking season can create a vastly different experience in taste. Taste wise, this tea was mostly very light and concentrated more on mouth feel, which had a very unique texture compared to other TGY’s. I found it a bit lacking in the aftertaste and couldn’t really taste/feel most of the hints verdant describes about this tea.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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drank Silver Buds Yabao by Verdant Tea
57 tasting notes

Not assigning a numerical rating on this one. I’m tasting it from a surprise sample that was included in my recent verdant order (I feel I need to try the tea several times before making final judgement on it).

Anyways, first things first, I like it very much! Very light and subtle but with a clear sweet woodsy taste. I decided to write on note on this one because I currently have a much newer yabao (produced in 2012), and when this sample was included in my order, I was excited to see what the differences would be between an aged yabao (2008 according to verdant’s site) and a new one.

All I can say is that the aging makes it sweeter and definitely more complex. My newer yabao is very flat and with a strong pine needle aroma/taste, so I’m glad that aging it will make it better on the long run :)

I’d definitely recommend this one if you enjoy white tea.

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77
drank Matcha Jo by Halcyon Tea
57 tasting notes

I re-made this matcha using 3 oz of water, 2 chashaku scoops, and using water at 180F.

The flavor is mostly about the same but with a thicker, smoother texture and a “greener” taste. I decided to up the score a little.

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77
drank Matcha Jo by Halcyon Tea
57 tasting notes

So after a month long stay in San Diego, I visited my favorite tea shop in the area and stocked myself with several of their teas. After going through the eye opening experience that was my last matcha, I decided to give this one a try. I wasn’t really expecting much, as the description is very clear that this is an everyday grade, but I still enjoyed this one.

>Matcha Appearance/Aroma
Aroma is very faint, almost non-existent, unless you smell the can up close. The powder is lightly coarse with a bright lime green color.

>Preparation
Usucha style (thin).

I used 4 oz of water, 2 scoops, 180F water and thoroughly whisked.

While the website description asks for 2 scoops per 2 oz of water, the label in the can says 1 scoop per 2 oz of water, so I decided to follow the directions in the can. I’ll post an update using the guidelines from the website.

>Taste and Color
Foam is bright lime green, liquid a deep dark green.
Taste-wise, the tea was very light with very subtle grassy/vegetal notes and not a hint of bitterness.

>Overall
Pretty much the description by Halcyon is spot on. While not a mind blowing experience, it’s definitely better than the usual offerings at the Japanese markets. This is a matcha that tastes good on its own and I bet it’ll make better lattes than the store bought ones.

*NOTE: Most of the teas I recently got from Halcyon(including this one) have been de-listed from their website. I don’t know if they are temporarily out of stock of them or are giving way for new tea.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C

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70
drank Sakura Vert by Lupicia
57 tasting notes

Sometimes, I get tired of straight tea, the gongfu style of brewing, the mess, the ritual, etc., and this seems to happen more often during hot summer days. Looks like it’s time for some flavored iced tea!

I visited my local Lupicia store hoping to get a nice flavored green and ended tasting this.

The flavor was… totally unexpected. Smooth and vegetal like your regular Japanese green, with a fresh crisp salty finish. As someone else said, the “saltiness” reminds me a lot of the leaves some mochis come wrapped in, especially in the aroma (which is one thing about this tea that I like the most, such a good scent when brewed).

I liked it overall, but like the shop clerk told me, most people find this salty hint a bit too much and I can see why. But I just find it really comforting right now. Even while drinking it hot, I feel slightly refreshed, despite these hot days. We’ll see how the iced version tastes…

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec

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Profile

Bio

SoCal native and Tea addict.

Looking to try every single type of tea the world has to offer.

I’m not too fond of flavored tea or blends, but every now and then, there will be one that I like.

I enjoy all types of tea, but my absolute favorites are Japanese Greens and Oolongs.

I am much more familiar with Chinese and Japanese teas. I’m looking to get in to Korean tea next and then Indian/Ceylons. Herbals are good too, but I don’t pay much attention to them (except rooibos).

Ti Kuan Yin (or Tie Guan Yi, whichever you prefer) Is one of my favorite teas. I’m trying to taste many offerings from different vendors to find the absolute best batch I can find.

My “Tea-Dream” is to one day make a cultural-tea trip to China, Taiwan, and Japan.


Ratings Guide

0 – 19 = Bad.
20 – 49 = Meh.
50 – 59 = It’s Ok.
60 – 69 = I like it, but…
70 – 79 = Good.
80 – 89 = Very Good.
90 – 100 = Amazing.

Location

Los Angeles, CA

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