719 Tasting Notes
A very pleasant, uncomplicated, and medium-bodied oolong here. It is highly oxidized and smells a bit like some Taiwanese black teas – sweet, flowery and nutty. There are only few woody or forest-like notes though, they come throughout the session.
The taste, on the other hand, is quite woody and bittersweet. The pear flavour that is characteristic of similar GABA teas is here as well, but in moderation. Late steeps veer into more vegetal and herbaceous territory that’s a little bit like a that of some Dong Ding oolongs. In the aftertaste, I get a nice molasses sweetness that accompanies mild fruity sourness.
Flavors: Dark Bittersweet, Floral, Flowers, Fruity, Herbaceous, Molasses, Pear, Sweet, Vegetal, Walnut, Wood
First session with this tea is a familiar one. I have loved several iterations of the loose version so I decided to get a cake for easier storage.
Being already more than a year old, I would say that the bitterness is quite a bit weaker than what I would expect from its fresh state. The taste juicy and grassy initially and then sweeter and fruitier in later steeps. Aftertaste, on the other hand, is savoury and spicy/warming. Notes like parsnip, eucalyptus, garlic scapes, and sourdough bread remind me of previous sessions with these teas. Additionally, I found some new aromas of rum and candy floss in the dry and wet leaves respectively.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Bitter, Cotton Candy, Eucalyptus, Floral, Fruity, Grass, Mineral, Parsley, Rum, Spicy, Sweet, Tart
I recommend using rather lower temperatures for the tea. It is quite bitter and abrasive at the 100 degrees mentioned on the website.
When dry, the leaves smell quite a bit like hojicha. There are notes of toasted bread, hay, salep drink and vanilla ice-cream. Once wet, the aroma reminds me more of yancha (Tie Luo Han in particular). Specific notes include toasted peanuts, cinnamon, popcorn, curry leaves, and roast beef.
The tea tastes very toasty, bitter and woody with a decent sweetness as well. Because of the somewhat overwhelming bitterness, I didn’t find many associations beyond coffee among the immediate flavours.
More complexity is noticeable in the protracted aftertaste, once some of the bitterness subsides. Dominant flavours there are nutty predominately, such as hazelnuts, nutmeg, and tree bark. Later on in the session, a distinctive tree sap sweetness appears too.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Bark, Biting, Bitter, Cinnamon, Coffee, Dark Bittersweet, Hay, Hazelnut, Meat, Nutmeg, Nutty, Peanut, Popcorn, Sap, Spices, Sweet, Toasty, Vanilla, Wood
There isn’t much more to ask from a tea than what this one offers. The bitterness is low, but the other flavours are so pungent and there is so much breadth that this is a non-issue. Maybe one could say that the cha qi isn’t nearly as obvious as with some other gu shu productions. However, I am quite fond of its subtle nature. I suspect the taste profile blending savoury, sweet and sour aspects isn’t going to be for everyone. Personally, I love it though.
Immediately, one is greeted by a deep dry leaf aroma which has some unusual notes like instant hot cocoa or caramel. Wet leaf smell is a bit more standard. You get the impression of forest with mushrooms, ferns and a mineral rich soil. Cream and celery appear too.
First steep is sweet and sour with hints of ale and celery again. It has a colloidal and coating mouthfeel that’s very interesting given that the session’s just starting. In the next one, the texture is more creamy and slightly powdery as well. The tea already has great depth without any astringency or bitterness. It is savoury, earthy, and vegetal with a lemon finish.
Third infusion brings more umami, deep sweetness and floral notes to the table. It is still sour though and now we also have a mild mineral bitterness that is reminiscent of (the neighboring) Naka teas.
Fourth steep has a super creamy texture with a numbing, mildly drying, and very dynamic mouthfeel. The tea is very pungent now and develops an expansive aftertaste that sticks around for quite a while.
Fifth infusion is the strongest yet. It is extremely mineral and also quite floral. The aftertaste is cooling and flowery. It is a bit spicy and has an apricot sweetness and a burnt butter flavour.
Next few steeps mark a transition in the profile. We see the emergence of fruity notes as well as some vanilla and chocolate in the background. There are also flavours of root vegetables (celery). When brewed for longer, the tea displays some very interesting sour notes that linger on the tongue and are hard to describe precisely. In the empty cup I also noted aromas of candle smoke and parsnips.
Eleventh infusion still has quite a thick and oily texture. There is some dryness and bitterness reminiscent of slightly unripe apricots. The taste also has a nutty aspect like apricot pits and a cut grass flavour. There is a very fragrant aftertaste. More apricot notes are to be found in subsequent steeps which also show a more classic Bu Lang like profile with notes of honey and beeswax in the aftertaste.
Music pairing: https://castelsotterra.bandcamp.com/album/omega-mai
Flavors: Apricot, Celery, Compost, Cream, Cut Grass, Floral, Honey, Lemon, Mineral, Mushrooms, Parsley, Pleasantly Sour, Rainforest, Sweet, Vanilla, Vegetables
This is an uncomplicated tea with an invigorating and mind numbing cha qi. It would appeal to anyone who likes floral pu-erh I think. Between the two sessions I’ve had with the tea, I liked the one in which I brewed it more aggressively. The tea benefitted from a more pungent profile and a resulting long-lasting floral bitterness that ensued.
In the dry leaf aroma, there are notes of caramel, cinnamon, flowers, and cake. After the rinse, it is a much more foresty affair with hints of moss, but also grapes and coffee.
The tea has a medium body, a grating texture that’s a bit like that of carbonated water and a numbing mouthfeel. It tastes quite sweet and floral throughout the session. Early on, it is also quite citrusy with distinct umami notes like mussels and lichen. Other flavours include kale, pear, sweet grass, and lavender.
Flavors: Caramel, Cinnamon, Citrusy, Coffee, Floral, Flowers, Forest Floor, Grapes, Honey, Kale, Lavender, Moss, Pear, Sour, Spices, Sweet, Warm Grass, Umami, Vegetal
This is a weird tea, no kidding. It is quite pungent, warming and aromatic. At times it reminds me of Sichuan green teas, but also of FF Nepal teas, Taiwanese jade oolongs from wild varietals and others.
Its dry aroma is a mix of oats, coffee and carrot cake. On the other hand, wet leaves have a savoury scent with notes such as cabbage, cooked meat, fenugreek leaves, olives, pickled cucumbers and a touch of smoke.
The tea has a medium body and a distinctively oily texture. First steep is vegetal (bay leaf) and sweet (honey). Second one is more bitter and mineral with a lot of woody aromatics. Aftertaste is sour, floral, and spicy. It is reminiscent of mead, plant stems, green peppers and IPA.
Third infusion is sour itself and has a bit more astringency too. It is very pungent and besides vegetal/floral notes it also has a hint of tree bark. As the tea becomes smooth over time, a creamy flavour emerges as well.
Flavors: Alcohol, Astringent, Bark, Bitter, Cake, Coffee, Cream, Cucumber, Floral, Forest Floor, Green Bell Peppers, Honey, Meat, Mineral, Olives, Plant Stems, Sour, Sweet, Vegetables, Vegetal, Wood
I haven’t had many Liu An teas thus far. This one is the oldest and it may be the most interesting among them too. Besides being almost 20 years old, its aged character is influenced by the somewhat hot & humid Taiwanese environment it has been stored in. I would say the storage on this one is just right. It is really a well-balanced tea.
Dry leaves smell of dry earth, ant mounds, nuts, hazelnuts and, most prominently, poppy seeds. After the rinse, I can detect aromas of autumn leaf pile, fireplace/ash, limestone, and mushrooms.
First infusion is sweet and smooth with a woody bitterness and a lot of nutty notes. Second one is very mineral and has a very pronounced beetroot flavour. Later I also noted a flavour of fried/browned butter. The aftertaste is mostly marine and savoury. However, there is also a rock sugar (or sugar beet) sweetness. Additionally, I get a lasting menthol-like cooling sensation after drinking.
The tea is medium bodied with a creamy texture and somewhat numbing mouthfeel. I find it quite mouth-watering at first then drying after swallowing.
If you like beetroots and nutty, mineral profiles, this is one for you. Unfortunately, it is not available on TheTea.pl anymore.
Flavors: Ash, Autumn Leaf Pile, Bitter, Burnt Food, Butter, Dry Grass, Earth, Fireplace, Limestone, Mineral, Mushrooms, Nuts, Nutty, Root Beer, Smooth, Sugar, Sweet, Wood
This is a herbaceous tea and somewhat average among the ZSL long samples I’ve tried recently. It has big leaves and gives a good 200ml/g. It is a tea that is quite agreeable, but I doubt many would find it truly amazing.
The dry leaf aroma is sweet and grainy with a touch of fermented grapes. After the rinse, there are notes of grass compost, cape gooseberries and various flowers as well.
The rinse itself tastes mineral and savoury with a note of fresh grains. Honey sweetness permeates the whole session. It is complemented by flavours of apples and dry grass early on, and of wood, milk, and even garlic later. Infusions in the peak of the steeping curve are also somewhat biting and spicy. The mouthfeel is thicker and sticky there, otherwise I didn’t find the texture to be that noteworthy.
The aftertaste is body warming and biting. There is a lot of residual sweetness and a clover leaf taste.
Flavors: Apple, Berry, Compost, Dry Grass, Floral, Flowers, Grain, Grapes, Grass, Grass Seed, Honey, Milk, Mineral, Spicy, Sweet, White Wine, Wood
[Spring 2021 harvest]
This is quite a cooling tea, as is often the case with FF Darjeelings. Dry leaf aroma has a strong presence of grass flowers and nuts. Throughout the session, it becomes quite mineral with notes of lemon, osmanthus, and grass.
The taste is bitter and floral at first, while later infusions are more woody, akin to tree bark. There is a mineral finish and a peppery, citrusy aftertaste.
Flavors: Bark, Bitter, Citrus, Floral, Flowers, Grass, Lemon, Mineral, Nutty, Osmanthus, Pepper
I received a bunch of Tea Encounter (And Zheng Si Long) samples from a freind of mine in a tea swap that I have been trying out over the last couple of weeks. Unfortunately, my most favourite one of those (the 2018 Xiang Chun Lin) is sold out at the moment. However, I also really enjoyed this Wa Long.
It is quite nutty, mineral and bitter overall. The pungency translates to a strong huigan and an elevating, mind clearing cha qi as well. On top, I liked the syrupy mouthfeel that is so characteristic for teas from this area. The aromatics of the tea were fairly weak, but one doesn’t usually drink these teas for their aroma anyway.
In particular, the wet leaf scent reminds me of forest, spring water, musk, fir, star anise, as well as vomit on one occasion. In the empty cup, I can further detect a cinnamon aroma.
The taste is mineral with a strong woody bitterness from the get go. There is a nutty and cooling aftertaste to it too. Second infusion is spicy and a bit sour with a good astringency and bite.
Infusions 3 and 4 are really quite thick, full bodied and nutty with a lot of substance. Notes of roast beef, bread crust, tree bark emerge. Fifth steep has a decent honey sweetness that stays for the remainder of the session as well.