57 Tasting Notes

78

Just revisited this tea to give it a proper note.

>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
Large thin twisted leaves with long stems. Dark in color with some light brown. Very aromatic, with notes of honey, oranges, and nuts.

>Brewing Method
4oz gaiwan, Boiling water, gong-fu style with 2 rinses. 10 infusions.

>Liquid Appearance
Clear light golden color, which eventually transforms to a deeper orange/golden color.

>Taste/Aroma
The first two cups were similar. Light in taste with a very subtle honey sweet fragrance. Subtle notes of red apple, maybe some nuts, and honey.

Starting from the 3rd cup, the aroma in the tea began to have a gentle spiciness added to it. While the tea itself remained mostly the same, a dry citrusy finish began to emerge. This “finish” eventually culminated in the 5th cup, where the tea left your mouth with a dry feeling similar to that of biting into a dry orange rind. I also noted a slight mouthwatering sensation.

In the 6th and 7th cup, I noted the texture getting a little more velvety, with the citrus notes more noticeable but without the intense dryness from previous cups.

From the 8th to 10th cup, the texture of the tea became so good. Verdant describes it as “dessert tea” and I agree with the spot on description. Creamy, sweet, citrusy, velvety, honey… can’t think of any other words that can appropriately describe the texture during these late steepings.

I ended the session after 10 steeps.

>Wet Leaf Appearance
LARGE long leaves. Leaves now were in a brownish-green color.

>Overall
While I did enjoy this tea, especially towards the end, I have mixed feelings on this one. Described as a “shapeshifter,” the changes were very subtle and mostly in texture. It also takes many re-steeps to see the tea evolve, making it a slightly time consuming process. I steeped this tea 10 times hoping to explore most of what it had to offer, but reading over Verdant’s tasting notes, I’m not even halfway there. This means that despite the relative high price, this tea keeps on giving and giving, even during my last infusion I felt like I was just getting to know this tea. This is definitely not a bad thing, but I feel its not a good thing either.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, this truly is a tea you have to dedicate yourself to. You have to give yourself time and patience to properly brew this to fully explore its offerings, and even then, the flavor profile might not suit your tastes for the time spent on preparing it. I personally enjoyed this one and would like to drink it a little more. But considering the price per ounce, I might just bring it out every now and then, probably just for long gong-fu sessions with friends or when I feel like it. Otherwise I feel like I’m not really making a good use of this great tea.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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drank Taiping Houkui by Harney & Sons
57 tasting notes

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66
drank Tie Luo Han by TeaSpring
57 tasting notes

I ordered this over 2 months ago. Wasn’t until now that I decided to write a note about. This was my first Tie Lou Han, description on the website is pretty interesting, “A strong, rich and full-bodied tea that will warm your body and energize your mind.” I was honestly intrigued but the end result was a little disappointing. I have since tried other Tie Lou Han’s so I feel better writing about it now.

>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
Short curled dark leaves. Lots of broken pieces and some dust. Light charcoal aroma.

>Brewing Method
Gaiwan, Gong-fu style, boiling water, one rinse. Brewed 5 times.

>Liquid Apperance
Clear amber.

>Taste/Aroma
This tea has a very faint smell of rocks and charcoal. The tea has a strong charcoal taste with a medium body in the first cups, which then fades into very subtle cocoa notes.

Starting from he 3rd cup, the tea became lighter in taste, but other than that no noticeable changes from here onward.

4th and 5th cup followed the same pattern, loss of taste with no changes in texture or new flavors. I honestly got tired of it, so I ended the session there.

>Wet Leaf Appearance
Nothing out of the ordinary, dark leaves, mostly broken.

>Overall
If someone had told me this was a cheap wuyi oolong I would’ve believed it. The description of this tea really intrigued me so I was expecting something more, this one just feels like a cheap overly toasted da hong pao. Does this mean it’s a bad tea? no way. Despite the letdown, I did enjoy this tea, it’s just not amazing or has anything that makes it stand out.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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92

Ahh! It’s been so long since I last logged a tasting note, mostly because I’ve been away lately. I have written several physical notes of some teas which I’ll be uploading in the coming days.

>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
Large long twisted leaves, mostly unbroken, light brown in color with some leaves tinted with a yellowish green hue. Faint tangy citrusy aroma.

>Brewing Method
Small gaiwan, gong-fu style, boiling water, two rinses.

>Liquid Appearance
When viewed in large quantities, such as a glass server, the tea has a clear honey-like amber color. In smaller cups, it’s a beautiful golden color.

>Taste/Aroma
The first cup had a sweet tangy aroma. The tea was sweet and very accurately described by verdant tea, sparkling. I did not find this “sparklingness” similar to that of a wuyi rock oolong, but more of a feeling after drinking it. It’s hard to explain but it gives me a feeling of “brightening” up my body, if that even makes sense. I also found it to be a bit silky and with hints of citrus.

The second cup became thicker and notes of apricot began to surface. Third cup retained the basic flavor profile, but that thickness of the liquid became almost “juicy.” In the 4th cup, I noticed a strong apricot taste that started sweet and juicy, then finished with a slight dryness in the mouth.

The apricot hint and dryness were mostly gone in the 5th cup. Now the tea has a very pleasant thickness to it that fills your mouth with every sip and after a while, the taste lingers in your mouth well after you have put down the cup.

The 6th and 7th cup lost most of the thickness of the previous infusions and lost most of its aroma, but still very flavorful. While I ended my session there, this tea can very well take more rinses. I re-infused the leaves 2-3 more times but I did not write any notes about the taste, but I do remember the basic flavor profile remained there.

>Wet Leaf Appearance
Yellowish brown leaves, other than that, nothing out of the ordinary.

>Overall
If I had to summarize the taste/feeling of this tea, these words would be the perfect description: Sunny, Sparkling, Refreshing, Summer. I don’t know why, but this tea reminds me so much of summer. Maybe its the citrusy tangy taste, the juiciness and subtle apricot notes, who knows, but it’s definitely a very different experience from other oolongs.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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90

I have a tendency to, whenever trying a new type of tea, I always go for the cheapest version available and if I like it, I then go for the pricier stuff. My first matcha was from a local Chinese tea store in LA’s Chinatown. Then I tried several of those small tins offered in the local Japanese markets. All of them were too bitter for my taste when prepared traditionally and once I even got what I think it was a caffeine overdose. Seeing that this powdered offering of tea made me dizzy sometimes, and even when it did not, it still wasn’t enjoyable to drink, I strictly relegated my matchas for morning lattes and smoothies. This also made me lose interest in trying pricier matchas for a while… that is until I went to San Francisco.

I bought this at the same store where I found the Kabusecha Takamado I recently wrote about. The store specializes on the Japanese tea ceremony, selling many tea bowls, tea whisks, scoops, and of course tea. While at the store, the Japanese man (I’m guessing he’s Japanese, after all I was in Japantown) told me about their new shipment of matcha. Recently haversted and just arrived in two types, gold and silver. May being Shincha season, I was interested in trying a fresh new matcha. Specially a high quality one where I did not have to pay additional shipping thus raising the cost. So I went ahead and got the gold one.

This is my first time writing about a matcha so I’ll change the format a little bit.

>Matcha Appearance/Aroma
Very fresh sweet aroma as soon as you open the little can. The powder is super bright neon green, unlike any other matcha I’ve ever had (regular store bought versions look dull in comparison to this one).

>Preparation
two scoops, 3 oz water, 180F and thoroughly whisked. Ususcha (thin) style.

>Taste and Color
Foam was very bright green. I was very impressed with the taste, NO bitterness at all! Only sweetness with a thick creamy body. It has a very subtle grassy hint, but mostly it’s creamy sweetness.

>Overall
Another eye opener. My matcha interest has certainly been brought back by this one. I might order some more of the high quality ones offered by Den’s, Yuuki-cha, and O-cha in the future to try them out. I just wish I could go back to the store and get more… ah San Fran, why are you so far?

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C
TeaBrat

you’ll have to come back. :D

Mike G

Oh definitely.

TeaBrat

I bought this today. :-D

Mike G

yay! I’m halfway through mine :P

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87

So I, like many, have received the recent newsletter about the closing sale of Chicago tea garden, something that saddened me a little. While I had only purchased two teas from them (this one and the Tie Guan Yin), I did see myself purchasing more from them in the future thanks to their amazing presentation (Tea info cards with free quality tins?). I was waiting on their 2012 teas to make my next round of purchases but seems that will never happen. So while I’ve had this for a while, I never bothered to write a note of it (like so many of my other teas, sigh I just have so many right now). So anyways here it is, before it quickly becomes irrelevant.

>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
Small fuzzy golden curls, very uniform in shape. Like little golden nuggets. Aroma is that of a typical yunnan black, spicy and peppery but this one is milder and with maybe a touch of vanilla.

>Brewing Method
Following CTG’s intructions, boiling water, 1 min. 1 infusion.

>Liquid Appearance
Dark amber.

>Taste/Aroma
Not as aromatic as other yunnans, but taste-wise it is mildly peppery, sweet, and with subtle hints of vanilla. I sometimes pick up a little fruitiness similar to that of a Keemum. It is smooth and has absolutely no bitterness.

>Wet Leaf Appearance
The tight curls unfurl into long thin needle buds, dark clay like in color.

>Overall
As a fan of Yunnan blacks, I have enjoyed this tea a lot. It is milder in taste than others and notes of vanilla are more apparent in this one than the other I have. These subtle differences make it unique enough to differentiate it from other Yunnans. I will certainly miss it once I run out of it.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec
SweetBlossom

So sad about the Chicago Tea Garden closing! They had great customer service and good quality

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97

I’ve always enjoyed dragonwells, but my experience with them has always been with what some would say, low grades or everyday types. While I did enjoy them, I never quite understood why it was considered a China famous tea, they’re good but just not as amazing or as tasty as my fave Japanese greens. That changed, when I tried this one. After reading and learning more about dragonwell, I decided to look for a high quality version of this tea. Sadly not many places here in the US carry high grade dragonwells and among the few places that did, Redblossom convinced me the most to actually try it (thanks to the oh so pretty pictures they have).

Still, I was reluctant to buy it over the internet since this was not a cheap tea, and I didn’t want to buy something that did not live up to my expectations. So I waited until my recent trip to San Francisco to physically visit the store, see the teas first hand, etc. While I REALLY wanted to try the Panan Supreme, my budget simply did not cut it, so I settled for the regular Panan. After tasting it in store and brewing it myself at home, I can safely say, I’ve found a new tea to add to my favorites collection.

>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
This is a very beautiful tea. Small thin blade-like sets of buds and leaf, vibrant golden green leaves, and very soft and delicate to the touch. Some damaged leaves and broken pieces. The aroma is so entrancing, super fresh, lightly fruity, reminds me of rain, forest and nuts. I don’t know what this tea has, but every time I open the tin, I just want to drink it.

>Brewing Method
Small Gaiwan, 175F water, 1 min steep time. 3 times.

>Liquid Appearance
Very pale but bright clear green.

>Taste/Aroma
The first cup was obviously the best. Lightly sweet, very buttery, nutty, juicy, crisp finish, and fresh, It is simply delicious. The second cup was still good, but with a slight loss to the buttery texture. The third cup was still good but much lighter in taste.

>Wet Leaf Appearance
Beautiful leaves, small and delicate buds with 1-2 leaves.

>Overall
This tea was such an eye opener for me concerning dragonwells. Quality does make a huge difference. The taste was so mouthwatering that I keep coming back to it for more. I would like to eventually try the Panan Supreme to see if the price on that one is really worth it, but after trying this one, I might just get it… someday. Definitely one of my new favorites.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

Niiiice! I hope you had a good time at Red Blossom – I love that place. :)

Mike G

Yes it was great! loved the store, I wanted to buy everything but it was just so expensive :(

TeaBrat

I know the feeling… I try to go in only once every few months!

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100

Ah it has been almost a month since I last logged in a note, mostly due to a busy schedule and a recent trip. Been drinking tea heavily though just not writing about it. Anyways, so this past memorial weekend I decided to travel to San Francisco to visit the many tea shops and explore the Chinatown in hopes of finding another good yixing pot for my collection (sadly that part of the trip was a failure).

I remember seeing Amy Oh’s note on a certain Kabusecha that intrigued me. I searched the website in hopes of ordering some online but couldn’t find any info on how to order some, if you even can. So I asked her how she was able to get some and told me she got it from a San Francisco Japantown store. I explored Japantown and found this small shop that specialized in Japanese tea ceremony products and there they were, several cans and bags of Marukyu-Koyamaen tea. The shop had two different Kabusechas and I think I got the pricier one of the two (I don’t even remember the price as I lost the receipt). The tea comes in a very nice tin (I uploaded the picture of the one I got).

I made a separate page for this tea since the other one does not say which Kabusecha it is. I translated the Hiragana and Kanji in my can using several websites, alongside Marukyu-Koyamaen’s site trying to figure out exactly which kabusecha I got.

Anyways let’s get on with the note.

>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
Medium sized needles with a deep green color, nicely shaped with a little twist to them, some broken but mostly unharmed. Aroma is faint but has a sweet grassy smell.

>Brewing Method
Used a small kyusu, water at 175F and 1 min steep time for the first infusion. Second infusion used the same temp, but shorter steep time (30 secs).

>Liquid Appearance
First cup had a bright green yellow cup, second cup remained the same but slightly cloudier.

>Taste/Aroma
First cup. Wow! it has a mellow aroma that is sweet and smells… creamy? The taste, slightly grassy and vegetal, with a very creamy finish and hints of vanilla. Subtly sweet, no astringency or bitterness. I was completely surprised by the taste, unlike any other green tea I’ve had. The flavor profile really reminds me of those green tea flavored kit kats sold in Japanese markets. So creamy with a green vanilla sweetness.

Second cup had a much fainter aroma, taste profile remained the same, still very good but definitely a loss of texture and flavor. Didn’t bother brewing a third cup but I’m certain it can take another brew.

>Wet Leaf Appearance
Very very green, a vivid green, with some unbroken fully opened leaves ( a rare sight with most Japanese greens). Other than that, mostly the typical Japanese green tea look.

>Overall
Wow what an experience. I have to admit this is my first time trying a Kabusecha (my only other experience has been with a Shiraore Kabusecha, one that included several stems which was still very good but nothing like this one). I never really payed much attention to Kabusecha since not many vendors here in the states sell them, and I always had this idea that it wouldn’t taste that much different from Sencha or Gyokuro, but this one is in a league of its own. One of the best green tea I’ve had and definitely a must try.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

!!!! OMG! Hurray! So glad you found this and liked it.

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96

It’s Shincha season! I decided to order a Fukamushi and an Asamushi (light steamed) sencha this year. For the fukamushi I decided to go with this tea from Yuuki-cha (therefore this note is for the 2012 new harvest) and for the asamushi I went with Den’s Hashiri shincha (which just arrived today!).

>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
As a Fukamushi sencha, the leaves are mostly broken down into a mix of dust, small pieces, and extra fine needles. The color is bright vivid green with a super sweet fresh grassy aroma. The aroma is so delightful, that I sometimes just open the tin I have it stored in, just to smell the dry leaf.

>Brewing Method
I steeped this tea 3 times in a small kyusu. First infusion using 158F water and 1 minute steep time. 2nd infusion 160F water and 30 Sec steep. 3rd 165F water and 45 sec steep.

>Liquid Appearance
1st cup was cloudy with vivid deep green color. 2nd cup was darker and cloudier. 3rd cup resembled the first one with a lighter color.

>Taste/Aroma
My first cup had a fresh mellow sweet aroma. The taste was wonderful, very tasty and super fresh. I can only describe it as a refreshingly grassy sweet buttery cup. It has a very light astringent finish, but with a very enjoyable and refreshing lingering sweetness in the mouth.

My second cup was not as aromatic as the first, and taste remained mostly the same but perhaps a bit thicker. The fresh sweet grassy aftertaste remained there though not as strong as the first cup.

My third cup had no aroma, lighter in taste, but still very enjoyable. The astringent finish became more prominent in this cup but still not very bothersome.

>Wet Leaf Appearance
Nothing special (as most of the leaf is already broken anyways) other than the leaf had a very vivid green color after 3 infusions.

>Overall
I enjoyed this tea a lot! I’m usually not always in the mood for the thicker, fuller bodied fukamushis, but this one is so tasty! I have been drinking it non-stop since it arrived on Monday. The leaf, the brew, everything about it is super fresh, sweet, and deliciously buttery, yum!

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec
TeaBrat

Yay! I ordered one from Den’s Tea. :)

Mike G

Awesome! I’m holding off to try the one from Den’s as it comes in a non-resealable bag. I ordered a few Japanese tins that should arrive on Monday though :)

TeaBrat

I just got mine today and I decided to get the gift tin, which is ridiculous because I got 2 oz. of tea and the tin could easily hold 8 oz. of something! Oh well!

Mike G

Well that’s good to know. At least you can reuse it for other teas once you run out of it right :P?

SweetBlossom

Yummyyy I love fukamushi, I’m sure I’m gonna love this one :)

Shinobi_cha

If you ordered the Japanese tins from Den’s I can definitely recommend them. While they only fit up to 50g (which can be annoying at times because you have to be careful when getting tea out so as not to spill, since the sides aren’t very high), that is also the benefit, because you can split a 100g teabag into two tins, and thus keep it much fresher (you only have to open the one tin that you are using). I ordered Hashiri, Kunpu, and Houryoku, too… but all from Japan, since they come in bigger sizes!

Mike G

The tins I ordered are actually from O-cha. I ordered one before and fell in love with it, so my natural reaction was to order more :P They hold about 100 grams each. Did you order from Den’s parent company in Japan? or was it another vendor that offers those three teas?

Shinobi_cha

I ordered from the parent co. in Japan… it’s trickier since you can’t order online :
https://www.shirakata.co.jp/index.php?main_page=shippinginfo#2

Use google translate on that page… but basically you enter all the info you need and your order (not your payment details) at the email address there at the top… then after they confirm, you can fax your payment details to them, OR, if you’ve bought from Den’s Tea, they might be able to use the same info they already have on file.

Mike G

Awesome! thanks for the info. As you said, I’m interested in the bigger sizes since I tend to go through my Japanese greens rather quickly. Anyways thanks again for the info.

Shinobi_cha

You’re welcome. It’s also cheaper too, even taking higher shipping and the bad exchange rate factor into consideration…you just have to order enough to offset it. Shipping is EMS only: http://www.post.japanpost.jp/int/charge/list/ems2_en.html

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93

I came across JK teashop through a google search (I was looking for a tea presentation vessel in pure white). Browsing through their website I noticed their seven A’s grade Tie Guan Yin (the highest grade they have) it sounded ridiculous but I added a sample to my order. Anyways, This tea was truly an experience.

>Dry Leaf Appearance/Aroma
Tightly curled dark jade leaves, they feel hard and not very fragile. Aroma is subtle but very noticeable from a short distance, fresh floral scent.

>Brewing Method
Following JK teashop’s directions using freshly boiled water, 10-20 sec steep time, and a Yixing teapot. Brewed for 7 consecutive infusions.

>Liquid Appearance
First cups had a clear pale yellow green, later ones became bright golden green.

>Taste/Aroma
My first cup had an amazing floral aroma. Orchid-like and sugary sweet.
The tea itself was very fresh, incredibly floral, subtly sweet, and light bodied. What impressed me most about this tea, was its intense aftertaste. After a few sips, you could feel a lingering floral freshness engulfing your mouth and throat. A sensation very similar to that of having a mint, but instead of minty flavor, you get a very fresh orchid-like breath. Very impressive and unlike anything I’ve had before.

My second cup was almost exactly the same to the first with just a stronger floral aroma.
My third cup became slightly thicker in texture but not by much (barely noticeable if drinking in small sips). Aroma, taste, and aftertaste remained just as intense as the first cup.

In my 4th cup, I noticed a slight loss of aroma, lighter taste and not as floral, but still really good. After the 4th cup I increased brew time from 10-15 sec to 20 sec.
I was wowed in my 5th cup. Aroma was fainter, but the taste became bolder. Sweet fresh floral taste with a thicker texture than previous cups, almost creamy but not quite there. Very tasty.

6th and 7th cup began to have a slight green taste. Aroma was barely noticeable on the 6th and completely gone by the 7th. Taste became fainter but still very good, thicker and subtly sweet. I ended the tasting on the 7th cup not because of loss of flavor, its just too much tea for me in one sitting (aroma was completely gone, but taste-wise this tea still had more to offer).

>Wet Leaf Appearance
Mix of broken and unbroken leaves, some were very well preserved, others were just in pieces. Leaves were about medium sized. Very few stems.

>Overall
This tea was so close to perfection! The floral aroma, the orchid sweet taste, the aftertaste! They were one of the most intense I’ve had. The only thing that kept this tea from being absolute perfect, was that it lacked that buttery/creamy texture that gives the taste a richer flavor. For example, Verdant’s 2012 Hand Picked TGY has a more well rounded “package” having a nice balance of aroma, taste, texture, and aftertaste. This one excelled in the aroma and aftertaste (as of today the best in those categories, but I still got a long way to go) taste was very good but lacking in texture. Still, this was a very enjoyable experience, definitely a must try if you prefer your Tie Guan Yins on the more aromatic side.

Overall, Great tea, AMAZING aftertaste and aroma, and very affordable (under $10 an ounce, bad thing is, they only sell either a 15g sample or 100g(3.52 oz) pack for about $34).
I will definitely order more of this tea whenever I clear up my TGY cache.

*I still have enough tea left for another session. I will try using longer steep times next to see if I can get the thicker texture on the first cups and update on my findings.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
SweetBlossom

Sounds delicious! Can’t wait to try it :)

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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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