51

I got this as part of a sampler from someone who was in an online tea discussion group on Myspace. I’m very grateful to him for sending me these samples, regardless of the quality – they happen to be one of my favorite groups of teas, so I’m happy to give ’em a try.

That said, I’m glad it was him who ordered this, as the seller looks awfully dubious and provides no information about the flavor of the tea. Absurdly cheap, too. I guess this one was $10 for 100g including shipping from China.

I’m copy-pasting my notes I wrote while tasting, so I apologize for the odd format.

Used 4g with 60ml water in a small glazed ceramic gaiwan
single rinse at 89C in the kettle
Infusions progressed:
10sec-85C, 10sec-85C, 10sec-85C, 15sec-87C, 20sec-89C, 25sec-88C, 30sec-88C, 35sec-89C, 40sec-89C, 45sec-90C, 50sec-90C, 60sec-89C, 60sec-88C, 120sec-80C, 180sec-76C, 240sec-83C

Dry fragrance
Citrus (pomello, tangerine, lime/sweet lemon rind), yellow nectarine skin and pit, juncus pollen, dry ferns, drying clay soil, wetted thatch, madrone, poison oak, raw sheep’s cheese, toasted himalayan salt, dry oak wood, gardenia, wood rose foliage, toasty grain sweetness.

Wet Aroma
Mulched grass, wet driftwood, orchid bark, moss, grilled halibut/unagi, toasted black sesame, nori. Similar to sushi.. Citrus oil faint note underlying toasty wood/grass base.

Liquor
Clear yellow with pinkish tint and grayish cast. Pomello-grapefruit and longan perfume.

Flavor
Initial impressions: sweet, medium-full body, longan, sedge, lemon rind. A bit of nondescript wood note or dried cattails.
1st: smooth, sweet fruit mucilage, cashew, light broth body
2nd: lingering astringency rice paddy/wetland grasses
3rd: phenolic fruit skin (yellow plum), deeper impression, lighter flavor and astringency
4th: bit more sour – light grapefruit and edible flowers. More minerally. Sweetness mostly gone.
5th: a lot milder… kumquat, dried out forest/woodland floor on warm day. Aroma of buttered wheat toast
6th: richer mouthfeel – still off balance with higher astringency, but closer to buttery. Brome afteraroma
7th: resinous wood plus hardwood sap. tanoak acorns. Unhulled red qinoa
8th: not a lot going on up front, light gardenia in afteraroma. A touch of freshly baled alfalfa
9th: a bit of peach for aftertaste. Gravelly. Lot more fruit in aroma (underripe untouched cherries
10th: a little green peppercorn, woody… getting boring in terms of flavor
11th: flavor diminishing and leveling, a touch of green bell pepper in aftertaste
12th: “ripe” quality similar to stir-fried limpid red bell peppers and a touch of canned bamboo shoots
13th: hard to place woody tastes very light. Mineral water. Nose is increasingly similar to smell of a library.
14th: meh, same overall flavor and tactile impression. Astringency still out of balance with declining body
15th: Better balance tactile. Not much going on in flavor. Undercooked white rice eaten with wooden spoon
16th: basic spent dancong cupric and woody/old uncooked rice taste. No point in going beyond this.

I had hoped to be able to progress in five-second intervals up to 20 or higher at this concentration as I’m used to with “AA Dancong” but this was really going downhill after the 7th brew. Still an okay tea, but I’d brew it with water around 80C for 3 minutes with maybe 2g per ounce. Not something I’d suggest expending effort on for gongfu preparation and not something I’d want to serve to guests. Probably pleasant to sit and drink straight from a gaiwan if given a double rinse with 85C+ water, brewed at about 75C and left with a full ounce or two with each refill. I’d feel comfortable spending up to $6 for 100g on this.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec
mostlymexican

Your taste notes are so detailed. How are you able to distinguish so many tastes?

Thomas Smith

Well in the case of this one I really had to struggle – it had a lot of “non-taste” so I had to stretch to find similarities. I literally go around through produce stands, home improvement centers, construction sites, and wander the hills paying more attention to what I’m smelling than watching where the heck I’m going with a mind to how it’ll tie into flavors and aromas in the coffees and teas I evaluate. Six years of consciously doing this pretty much every day and I can now consider myself a novice.

Lori

Lol! I like the description on the 15th steep. And u r definitely more than a novice….

Thomas Smith

Hahaha, thanks.

deftea

Yeah, I wish I could detect tastes like this. If you see me try to mimic some of your descriptions in future posts, I confessed up front, OK?

Thomas Smith

Hey, as far as I’m concerned, tasting comparisons are up for grabs the moment they leave someone’s thoughts in words either aloud or written down. Just please actually go and familiarize yourself with whatever that characteristic is. I know someone who stole “sandalwood” from me once when I used it in a coffee cupping, and he had never smelled the stuff. After I noticed him using it to describe the aftertaste of a green tea I brought him a chunk to “show” him what he was relating a bunch of teas to.

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mostlymexican

Your taste notes are so detailed. How are you able to distinguish so many tastes?

Thomas Smith

Well in the case of this one I really had to struggle – it had a lot of “non-taste” so I had to stretch to find similarities. I literally go around through produce stands, home improvement centers, construction sites, and wander the hills paying more attention to what I’m smelling than watching where the heck I’m going with a mind to how it’ll tie into flavors and aromas in the coffees and teas I evaluate. Six years of consciously doing this pretty much every day and I can now consider myself a novice.

Lori

Lol! I like the description on the 15th steep. And u r definitely more than a novice….

Thomas Smith

Hahaha, thanks.

deftea

Yeah, I wish I could detect tastes like this. If you see me try to mimic some of your descriptions in future posts, I confessed up front, OK?

Thomas Smith

Hey, as far as I’m concerned, tasting comparisons are up for grabs the moment they leave someone’s thoughts in words either aloud or written down. Just please actually go and familiarize yourself with whatever that characteristic is. I know someone who stole “sandalwood” from me once when I used it in a coffee cupping, and he had never smelled the stuff. After I noticed him using it to describe the aftertaste of a green tea I brought him a chunk to “show” him what he was relating a bunch of teas to.

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Bio

Tea Geek.

My focus is on Chinese Wulongs and Pu’er but I’m all over the place. I tend to follow a seasonal progression of teas, following the freshness curve of greens through summer and rounding the cooler months out with toastier teas and Masala Chai.
With the exception of Masala Chai milk tea I’m a purist at heart. While I was originally snagged by Earl Grey with bergamot and make blends for gifts, I very rarely go for scented teas or herbals and can’t remember the last time I bought a tea that was blended. Pure tea is just more interesting to me than the product of mixing flavors. I do understand and appreciate their existence, though.

I upload some blends I make or special prep teas I nab under the company name “Green Raven Tea and Coffee” and the vast majority of these posts will be blends crafted to create flavors/characteristics not inherent in any one particular tea.
I’ve worked as a tea buyer for a smallish cafe and try to keep apprized of shifts in offerings even when not selecting for a business so I wind up sampling a ton of wholesale samples from a couple companies in particular but try to branch out to as many companies as I can find. Until Steepster integrates some form of comparative tasting feature, none of my cupping notes will make it onto my reviews unless wrapped up into something I feel compelled to drink multiple times on its own.



Since all the cool kids are doing it, here’s my big fat ratings scheme:

0-12…..Ugh, don’t wish on anyone
13-25….Bad, won’t touch again
26-37….Huh, not worth the effort
38-50….Meh, unremarkable
51-62….Okay, good tea
63-75….Tasty, really good tea
76-87….Yum, wonderful
88-100…Wow, really spectacular

There shouldn’t be many postings at all from me ranked 26-50 since unremarkable teas are unlikely to make me remark on ’em but to “earn” a score 37 or below I have to be disappointed to the point where others may ask for a refund or turn down offers even when free or offered as a gift (beyond stale).

I’ve got a ton of respect for anything rated 63 or higher.

For a tea to get 71 or more, it has to be pretty special and kinda blow my socks off.

The 90s are reserved for wonders that make me reevaluate my views of the world of tea as a whole.

Location

Santa Rosa, California, United States

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