211 Tasting Notes
This tea didn’t impress me as outstanding in any way, despite its pretty blue malva blossoms. The complexity I look for in an oolong just wasn’t there. Toasty taste without sweetness or florality, not even the promised (and hoped-for) violet. A bit of spice and caramel emerged in the third steep. However, it must be noted that added flavorings, such as (in this case) violet, weaken with age faster than the innate flavor of the tea. My sample came from a swap, in a well-worn bag, which might indicate an old or ill-kept bit of tea. So I moderated my rating accordingly.
I didn’t get much aroma from the dry tea, but the hot liquor greeted me with a sweet, flowery scent. Tasting happened immediately, because I grabbed the gravy ladle (which scoops and cools off a tbsp of tea very rapidly), blew, paused, and slurped. Yum! Brisk and piquant, without being outright bitter. And the astringency is mild, as well. There’s a toasty component alongside the muscatel brightness. This may be the first time I’ve drunk a first-flush Darj. The ones I’ve had were sometimes oversteeped, too (back when I thought all black tea needed to brew for 5 minutes). Whatever the cause, I’ve been leery of Darjeelings because bitterness puts me off rather quickly, and the only one I’ve really liked was a 2nd flush from Mim estate. This doesn’t have the maturity and complexity of that 2nd flush experience, but its lightness and clarity are really enjoyable, letting the fruitiness shine forth.
If you gift this Wedding Tea or serve it at a wedding, you can hope the marriage is as durable as these leaves! Admittedly, I used a generous amount of the voluminous stuff, but getting five (5) good infusions from green tea was quite impressive. The first couple of infusions were one minute, with the last one (still tasty) going 5 min. The hand-tied mini-rosettes are made entirely of buds. The loose leaves are big and dark green. Stash claims there is yerba mate in small part, which may account for the touch of bitterness which didn’t vary along the steeps. The citrus rind flavor held up all the way, as did the melon flavor, and the green tea flavor, too. I added a dab of light agave nectar to a couple of the cups, and it was good either way. The dry tea blend is beautiful to behold, but I’d drink this to experience it’s uncommon and delicious melon flavor and its inspiring and amazing fortitude!
At 180F temperature, as directed by Adagio, the cup I got was so light as to be almost tasteless. Bumping up the temperature got me a couple of steeps of a mild, unremarkable green tea. Lightness of color is okay, but this was sorely lacking in flavor and aroma. I want more out of my tea than this.
This Arjuna fellow may be a warrior, but beneath his armor he is an epicurean sensualist. The sweet scent and long, twisted leaves of the dry tea are striking and alluring. The spear-like leaves went 5 rounds, heroically keeping their twist through the first three. The smooth liquor evolved through luscious shades of caramel, from toasty to mild, with soft floral notes. As tea-drunkeness enveloped me, I stroked the hero’s back and squeezed his lovely brown buns! Arjuna now ranks in my top few oolongs. Thank you, Zhi Tea, for an unforgettable drinking experience.
Caramel and hay in the scent of long, twisted, dark-brown dry leaves. I put a lot of leaves in my little clay pot, so 30 sec was long enough to make tea. A very ‘yang’ taste, but low astringency. Found definite cinnamon and a touch of bitterness in the finish. The golden liquor shifted from allspice and leather, early on, to a deep, pu-erh-like, peppery taste in later infusions. Sweetness was mostly in the aroma rather than flavor, with richness imparted mainly by the body of the liquor. By the 6th infusion, at 2:00 min, with temp raised to boiling, the big leaves were still going strong, with the tea mellowing out to a sweet, faint linen and leather, and the bitterness vanished.
Dry tea is glorously tippy, with an aroma like toasted angel food cake with raisins. Medium-hued liquor with notes of brown sugar and vanilla is smooth and self-drinking. Not as brisk as some Yunnan blacks, but clean finishing, nonetheless.
Buttery, sweet and smooth, with honey and cucumber aroma. Astringency is very slight, but enough for a clean finish.
I shared a small pot of this with my son. No rinse before the first steep, which was mild and unremarkable, with only a slight lemon scent and very little lemon flavor. The second steep was no better, yielding only a little of wood, caramel and honey tastes, and a dearth of aroma. It was the thin body, dry mouth feel, and unpleasant lingering astringency which put us both off the most. Very disappointing.
An unusual, interesting blend, but I’m not sure it’s an improvement on plain white tea. You see, I find plain white tea to be anything but plain. Of course, teabag-grade tea could be expected to be less flavorful than its full-leaf forbears. Maybe it’s the lime zest. Unlike lemon, which accentuates the floral notes, the lime seems to bring out something more earthy. And then there’s cucumber. If you omit the skin, what flavor is cucumber? It has a vegetal freshness, I think, but it’s a shy, retiring essence, overwhelmed by the lime. I wanted the lime to surprise me, to wake me up, but it wasn’t punchy enough to do that. It adds a savory dimension, but I think the lime would give a better effect when paired with a base other than white tea. Plus, I kept wanting to add a dash of salt!