24 Tasting Notes
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.
If I had to choose just one favorite tea variety to accompany me on my desert island, ‘Green’ Oolongs would have to be my choice. They are the tea I always return to and therefore finding a good value ‘staple’ for the pantry is a life’s work. When it comes to value for money, this is the best I’ve found in some time.
Nose: Sugarcane and cut grass. Medium intensity nose. Building frangipani notes. Second steeping is still fragrant with big floral notes, however lacks some of the complexity of the first steeping. Third is slightly more muted again, but still pleasant.
Palate: Quite fresh, but with a sweet, slightly buttery aftertaste. Subtle. Some floral notes with light peach and sugarcane. Frangipani notes build as tea cools. Taste is more developed and complex on second steeping. Floral notes and nutty, buttery goodness are there in abundance. Faintest hint of grass. Lasting sweetness.
Overall: Cheap and delicious! This tea has the flavour and complexity of teas four times the price. My new go-to daily tea!
This tea is not cheap. But then who wants to drink cheap tea when you can drink AMAZING tea?! I’m sold.
Aroma: Delicate. Floral. Delicious. Rose petals, frangipani, melon and sugarcane play with balanced straw notes. Apricot jam and dried flowers come through on the second steeping, with straw characters starting to dominate after the third cup.
Palate: Deliciously subtle and sweet. An ethereal but enticing bouquet of sugarcane and straw notes with a balanced floral background. Sweet sugar cane and rose petals stay with you well after the last sip. Deeper straw notes shine on the second steeping, but the overall effect is still beautifully light and sweet.
Overall: Fantastic. I really loved this tea. Expensive but worth every cent.
I’ve been keen to try a few Northern Thailand teas lately, having spent a bit of the time in the region but never quite finding a green tea that knocked my socks off. This tea will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF, for better or worse – it has flavor by the overcrowded-thai-busloads. This pervasive character will likely make as many enemies as it does friends, but It is a tea you simply have to try for yourself. Peerless and delicious. When I first tried it I thought it was delicious but perhaps not a tea i’d be reaching for every day, but I’ve actually been surprised by how often I crave a cup. And when you crave a cup of Cha Khao Hoom, not much else will hit the spot.
Aroma: Ok I’m going to say it: the aroma of this tea is a dead-ringer for Thai weed (or cough so I’m told) – like a smelly, funky tropical forest floor – dank, woody and earthy. Ok back to planet earth… Skunk aside, the unmissable character of this tea is that of fresh steamed rice. Wildly comforting and delicious. Rich, toasty, slightly smoky wood aromas are there – reminiscent of a Dan Cong or other roasted Oolong. Popped corn and straw are in there too. The aroma holds fast for 3, 4… 5 steepings. This tea has legs.
Palate: All the warm comfort and full-bodied flavor of a big bowl of steamed rice. Mellow, subtly fragrant, slightly toasty and entirely wholesome. That thai bud ‘dank’ toastiness is in there too (ok enough of that now). Popped corn, subtle pine needle notes and a very slight fresh grassiness round out the palate. Very low tannin and a lingering sweetness. Like the nose, the palate stays punchy for a good five or so steepings, making this tea ridiculously good value.
Overall: A very comforting drop that cant help but sweep me off to Thailand. This tea is really something different. Not the only tea I’d want to own but definitely one I want in my cupboard at all times.