27 Tasting Notes
A lovely, full-bodied-but-subtle tea. Warming and wintery. This ‘premium grade Chinese Keemun’ black tea was the perfect thing to get me into the working day after a freezing dawn surf!
Aroma: Subtle woody smoke and roast capsicum. Iodine and a hint of pine needle. Some fleeting stone fruit.
Palate: A complex but subtle mix of wood, smoke and earth – which sounds overpowering but is anything but in this tea (and perhaps due to my short steeping time). Light but lingering rose petal and lychee notes and a delicate sweetness. This tea has a nice depth without being tannic, and a great balance of deep and floral characteristics. Second steeping (1min 30sec @ 100*c) is still nicely balanced but loses some of the complexity and floral notes, with woodiness predominating.
Overall: This tea has all the attributes I love in a Chinese black tea: the subtle dark cloak of smokiness, wood and earth, giving way to a bouquet of floral fruity notes. The floral and fruity notes are admittedly less pronounced than other premium Chinese black teas in this style. Not the most outstanding tea of this style, but remarkably elegant tea for the price. A great find!
Flavors: Floral, Iodine, Lychee, Smoke, Wood
A fairly oxidated dark oolong from T2 that produces a wholly savoury experience.
Aroma: Woody with burnt toffee and pine cone notes.
Palate: The dominant flavour is a strong ‘woodyness’ with earthy notes and soft tannins. Some light chocolate flavours linger in the mouth, yet this tea has very little sweetness.
Overall: Not one of my favorites. I prefer my dark oolongs with delicate, floral or fruitcake notes. I would possibly prefer this a little less steeped, but I still think it lacks the delicate complexity I’m after. Good for two steeps or three if steeped for a shorter time (I’d usually expect a third or fourth from a top oolong). All in all not a ‘flawed’ tea by any stretch, but not one that suits my palate and not one that I’ll be reaching for again.
Flavors: Caramel, Pine, Smoke, Wood
A good, dependable, if slightly underwhelming semi-fermented oolong.
Nose – Light. I get light stone fruit, floral notes and sugarcane. Very slight oolong butteryness and oats. Fairly characteristic of a ‘green oolong’.
Palate – Subtle and well balanced. Quite fresh and vibrant with light but lingering buttery sweetness with a touch of grassy zing. Handles three steepings, with a deeper, more vegetal flavour developing in the second steep and some of the more delicate notes dropping off by the third.
Colour – light golden green
Overall: Very pleasant but slightly unremarkable. A nice everyday drop and one for those who like their oolongs ‘green’.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Sugarcane
Every now and then a tea comes along that really surprises you. This was mine!
A really unique nose (albeit coming from someone who doesn’t drink much Darjeeling). Delicate but interesting, this tea has the aromatic character of a black tea veiled by the subtle freshness of a light green tea. Not dissimilar to a delicate Pai Mu Tan in some respects. Interesting, though the more I pick up on the nose of this tea the more I long for a little bit more punch – a longing that is quickly delivered on by a sniff of the fresh wet leaves, which smack of deep aromatic flavour and bring to mind a savoury character I can’t quite put my finger on… is it Oragano? Dried chives? Roast chicken?
A real freshness on the palate, with just enough tannin and acidity to make it a lively brew, but without any bitter astringency. And that savoury note is ever present on the palate too, this time with a more distinctly iodine character reminiscent of dried seaweed. The distinctive sweet herbaceousness common to Darjeelings (well, to me anyway) is certainly there, but in a more delicate and restrained form that I’ve never experienced before. Above all this tea is subtle and beautifully balanced.
The second steep brings out a real sweetness with rose petals, light straw and a subtle green freshness.
All up a really interesting cup. As a green tea lover I haven’t met many Darjeerlings I’ve wanted to be friends with, but this has made me wonder what I’ve been missing!
Flavors: Herbaceous, Iodine, Rose, Straw
If this was a real, unflavoured milk oolong I would probably be blown away by it’s richness and marvel at the buttery toffee notes. But it isn’t. And as such I find myself somewhat put off – nay, offended – by the intensity of flavour! Flavour which is a pretty poor approximation of real Milk Oolong.
Spraying ‘milk oolong’ with artificial flavour is a pretty common practice in China where cheap oolongs are boosted to make them appear like their rich buttery milk oolong counterparts, but T2? Really? I’m disappointed. For those not concerned with flavouring though I will stop ranting and proceed with the tasting notes:
Aroma: Distinct and unsubtle with big whacks of toffee, honey, buttery shortbread and some nuttiness. All enviable characteristics in a (supposed) milk oolong, but somehow this tea misses the target and instead delivers its own distinct flavour profile that some may love (and clearly do) and others (myself) may be put off by.
Flavour: Similar to the aroma, with a rich aftertaste and big creamy mouthfeel. Whilst there are aspects of the taste I find appealing the I still can’t help but be put off by the overall effect. This is a tea for those who love big brash flavour.
Overall: Probably not a bad place to start for those who are new to green tea (or like flavoured teas). As for me, I’m wondering how I will get through the rest of my box…
$22 / 100g
Flavors: Honey, Nutty, Toffee
My voyage into the darker side of Oolongs continues.
Aroma: Wholesome yet subtle. Light caramel, oak and raisins combine to produce a medira liquor aroma that is sweet and inviting. There is something uniquely comforting about this tea. The second steeping brings out more vegetal and kombu seaweed notes, but the overall effect is still one of sweetness.
Palate: Plenty of sweetnes there that lingers long. Fruitcake and honey are backed up with a toastiness reminiscent of a roasted oolong. Palate: Plenty of sweetnes there that lingers long. Fruitcake and honey are backed up with a toastiness reminiscent of a roasted oolong. Slight iodine. Silky smooth without a hint of bitterness. The second steeping just brings on more honeyed sweetness in a way that reminds me of stevia leaves – lingering and slightly vegetal.
Overall: Quite a unique flavour spectrum. Similar in many ways to a number of fermented Oolongs I’ve tried but yet occupying its own space in between the bone-dry woodiness at one end of the spectrum and the spice and marmalade at the other. This middle-ground is perhaps what makes this a beautifully balanced tea. Yet despite this complexity and balance, I don’t find this tea quite as much of a delight to drink as some fermented Oolongs i’ve had (including T&S’ Orchid Nectar).
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Wood
Aroma: Big hit of wood, smoke and pine needles. Bold but complex, and ever so slightly acrid. Hints of ginger and tropical fruit. Second steeping is still full of flavour.
Palate: Pine cones and forrest floor. There is a certain ‘dankness’ to this tea which is earthy and alluring. Light smoke and burnt sugar are in there. This tea is somehow deep yet light without being overpowering. Second steeping is just as good. All in all, quite delicious.
Overall: A great dark oolong – a variety that is really growing on me lately. I’ll be back for more!
I’m more into my unfermented green Oolongs than my darker Oolongs, but this really grabbed me. Looks like I might be turning to the dark side…!
Aroma: Dominant ‘forest floor’ woodiness and sap with a slightly smokyness. Vegetal. Burnt sugar gives it the slightest bitter edge. Subtle yet complex. Second steeping is lighter yet slightly less delicate.
Flavour: Candied ginger, marmalade and subtle toasty woodiness give way to complex floral notes. Lingering pine needle on the finish. Hints of burnt toffee. The flavour spectrum is somehow deep, delicate and floral all at the same time. I like it.
Overall: This is about the nicest dark Oolong I’ve tasted. Another win from Tea & Sympathy. The price is a bit higher than most of the teas I get from them, but it is still definitely within the ‘affordable’ range and I’ll certainly be adding it to my next order.
Another weekend morning, another T2 sample. Life is good.
Aroma: Marmalade and spice with a comforting sweetness. Subtle woody notes. There is a slight hint of bergamot in there too which reminds me of an earl grey. All in all more akin to a western black tea than a roasted Oolong but still with that characteristic dark Oolong candied orange peel that makes it entirely something else.
Flavour: The flavour profile reminds me a lot of ‘chinese herbal jelly’ – herbaceous, complex, slightly sweet with a faint iodine touch. Strangely alluring despite not being the sort of flavour which normally draws me in on a black tea. There is a faint burnt sugar/caramel layer in there. The underlying spice and subtle woody notes remind you what you’re drinking. The second steeping is all woody sweetness. Comforting. Pleasant. But hardly exiting.
Overall: This is an entirely pleasant semi-fermented oolong, but to be honest, it doesn’t captivate me the way some others have. It has enough backbone to stand up well to food though, and would be a perfect partner to dim-sum. All in all: not bad, but for the price there’s other teas i’d pick above it.
I tried this unique ‘glacial’ tea at a small ‘Tea Art’ (read: tea and teaware) shop in Perth, Australia and had to buy some despite the fairly serious price tag (ok, so maybe I’m a sucker for making a purchase when I’m at a ‘free tasting’!).
It really is a unique tea though: the ‘glacial’ refers to the fact that the tea is frozen fresh in vacuum sealed pouches, rather than dried. The proprietors claim to have invented the technique (I forget the story but something about tea-growing family’s scientist daughter comes home and starts experimenting). I love the idea of this freshness and it is the first time I’ve heard of this. I guess the added hassle and expense of producing and shipping a tea that has to be vacuum sealed and remain frozen is a bit prohibitively expensive for most producers…
So does all this extra effort actually produce a better tea? Well, I think so, yes. Here’s my tasting notes:
As per the advice I refreshed the tea and then steeped for only quick periods (4sec, 10sec, 15sec, 25sec, 45sec). I brewed in my little Yixing clay teapot.
Leaves: wet, dark green, large full leaves once defrosted.
Aroma: Amazingly floral, with white flowers and even light jasmine. Light sugarcane and the faintest whiff of lemon zest. There is something quite unique in there too that I just can’t put my finger on. The second steeping has all the same character but with a more rounded, honeyed bouquet. Hints of white peach. The third and fourth steepings produce a more herbatious nose that is still entirely floral but has a
to be honest slightly chemical edge to it (albeit not unpleasant). Lemon and honey notes are becoming more developed.
Palate: Delicate and well balanced, with complex floral overtones matched against a freshness that is in the same spectrum as ‘grassy’ and ‘herbaceous’ but at the same time something completely different. There is an underlying citronela character that floats somewhere between eucalyptus and lemon leaves. The second steeping produces a richer flavour profile, with mellow buttery notes and a velvety smooth mouthfeel. Subsequent steepings develop slightly biscuity character, with the lemon-lime zestiness, white flowers and rich undertones still there. The palate is sweet and has good length at each steeping. The fifth steeping is (finally) a little more subdued, but still entirely pleasant.
Overall: This is a very ‘pretty’ tea, yet still displays enough depth and complexity to keep me interested till the last sip. I love this tea for something a bit different, and it really is one of the better green oolongs I’ve tried – so much complexity over multiple steepings. I’m sure the fresh-frozen technique must carry some added health benefits too (let me dream!) and as always I love the organic status.
Price: AUD$45 for 20 single-serve packs.